Welcome to “The Brief,” a monthly roundup of Democracy Forward’s latest work to hold the Trump administration accountable. Read on below for news of our victories, newest filings, latest case updates, and resources to learn more.


Throughout the Biden administration’s first 100 days in office, we’ve kept a watchful eye to ensure that unlawful Trump-era policies are not left uncorrected.

Since January, our legal efforts have alerted agencies to at least a dozen actions left by the previous administration due for review, reversal, or investigation. We’re continuing our dogged work with our partners to see these cases through and limit the ongoing harm from the Trump administration’s unlawful policymaking.

Just this April, our cases saw federal courts stay an unlawful Trump-era rule that restricted immigrants’ access to justice and reject the Trump administration’s attempt to conceal a secretive coal council. We received an encouraging response from Biden’s Dept. of Health and Human Services in our lawsuit, signaling a critical review of the Trump administration’s SUNSET Rule timebomb. And the Dept. of Labor once again reiterated its commitment to issuing a permanent infectious diseases standard that will protect frontline healthcare workers even out of this pandemic.

Trust us, our updates have both bark and bite. Read on:

The courts said, sit… stay… ✋

 

Federal court stays unlawful Trump-era rule that restricts immigrants’ access to justice.

CLINIC et al. v. Executive Office for Immigration Reform

 

In response to our lawsuit, a federal court affirmed that the immigration justice groups we sued on behalf of “have shown likely irreparable harm absent a stay” and stated that halting the Trump-era rule “will best balance the equities at stake and serve the public interest.”

Trump’s unlawful rule deprived immigrants of access to a full and fair hearing, limited their right to present evidence and to select legal counsel of their choosing, and eliminated essential means of securing immigration relief. It also imposed excessive hardships on advocates who serve immigrants in court.

We filed suit and a motion to stay on behalf of CLINICBrooklyn Defender ServicesFlorence Immigrant & Refugee Rights ProjectHIAS, and the National Immigrant Justice Center to prevent the devastating changes to immigration court procedure from taking effect.

We’re grateful that our work has prompted the court to stay the rule as we continue our legal fight to permanently set it aside.

Learn more about the stay here →

 

Sniffing out unlawfully undisclosed records 🐶

 

Judge denies attempt to dismiss case seeking Trump-era documents from opaque National Coal Council.

Western Organization of Resource Councils v. Department of Energy

 

Earlier this month, a federal court rejected an attempt by Trump’s Department of Energy to dismiss our lawsuit challenging the National Coal Council’s (NCC) refusal to disclose its meetings and records to the public, as federal law requires. The Trump-era Dept. of Energy’s NCC has a private alter-ego — National Coal Council, Inc. — that purports to provide “administrative assistance” to the federally chartered NCC while withholding records from the public.

However, the court concluded that “NCC, Inc. operates as a federal advisory committee under FACA,” that “DOE does not maintain a passive role in NCC, Inc.’s operation,” and that “the development of [the NCC’s] reports occurs largely behind closed doors in meetings of Council subcommittees.”

We filed suit on behalf of WORC to expose how the last administration’s operation of the National Coal Council used its federal charter to produce policy recommendations that single-mindedly advanced the coal industry’s interests.

We’re continuing our legal fight to obtain access to the materials that the Trump administration improperly withheld.

Learn more about NCC and NCC, Inc. here →

 

Retrieving results on review of unlawful rule 🦮

 

Our coalition lawsuit prompts “Fresh and Critical” review (and potential repeal) of dangerous Trump SUNSET rule.

County of Santa Clara et al. v. Health and Human Services

 

In its latest court filing below, the Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services announced that it “anticipates issuing, in the coming months, a notice of proposed rulemaking repealing the SUNSET Rule.” The Department’s reply to our lawsuit signals a change “in contrast to its prior findings” of the prior administration:

The SUNSET Rule — proposed and finalized in the Trump administration’s lame-duck period — would have set a ticking time bomb on more than 18,000 crucial regulations issued by HHS and its sub-agencies.

So we filed suit alongside the County of Santa Clara, the California Tribal Families Coalition, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, the American Lung AssociationCSPI, and NRDC to vacate the unlawful Rule and prevent the substantial harm it could inflict.

Citing our lawsuit, the Biden-Harris administration delayed the Sunset Rule’s effective date by one year to March 22, 2022. We applaud the administration’s serious look at the legal flaws in the Rule, and we hope to see it act promptly to make good on its commitment to public health protections and to a lawful, transparent regulatory process.

Be sure to follow us for continued updates on the status of this rule!

See HHS’ court filing here→

 

Biden admin focused on infectious disease standards:

 

Still fighting for a permanent workplace infectious diseases standard on top of calls for an “Emergency Temporary Standard.”

AFT, AFSCME, WSNA, UNAC v. OSHA, Department of Labor

 

In February, as part of a lawsuit we filed, the Biden’s Labor Department first indicated to the federal court that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration “intends to prioritize the development of an infectious diseases standard for the healthcare sector.” 

Its commitment was reiterated again in April, when the Labor Department further informed the court that it expects the “agency’s short term plans for an infectious diseases standard for the healthcare sector” will be announced as part of the “Biden Administration’s Spring 2021” regulatory agenda, no later than June.

We sued the Trump administration last year for delaying work on a permanent standard that would protect healthcare workers from infectious diseases spread by contact, droplets, or the air — like influenza, COVID-19, and Ebola. Even before the current pandemic, there were 1.7 million healthcare-associated infections each year, which posed a risk to health care workers. Due to COVID-19 infections alone, nearly 480,000 healthcare workers have been infected and more than 1,500 have died.

We’re continuing our work to ensure that OSHA moves ahead with these critical workplace protections for our nation’s healthcare professionals.

Read what OSHA told the court →

P.S. Join us at DF!

 

Do you believe in keeping corruption out of policymaking? Are you committed to upholding the rule of law? Maybe you’re a bit of an admin law nerd?

We are seeking an experienced attorney to help carry out our litigation program.

The ideal candidate will have at least 5 years of experience in all aspects of litigation involving federal agencies, including investigating and researching potential claims, drafting complaints, briefs, and supporting documents, and participating in hearings and arguments.

Learn more and apply→