Canoe Cruisers Association v. United States Coast Guard

On behalf of the Canoe Cruisers Association of Greater Washington DC, Democracy Forward sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for unlawfully restricting access to a key portion of the Potomac River without providing the public with the required notice or opportunity for input, effectively blocking the public’s legal right to access the river during President Trump’s frequent golf trips.

When traveling for leisure, past Presidents have generally imposed only temporary and limited restrictions, and these security measures have been individually and publicly documented in the Federal Register.  Under the Trump Administration, however, DHS has broken with this practice, instead issuing a rule creating a “permanent security zone” that cuts off the public’s legal right to use a two-mile stretch of the Potomac River abutting the Trump National Golf Club. The rule has created uncertainty surrounding public use of a popular section of the river while the President is golfing, something he has spent nearly 25 percent of his days in office doing.

DHS issued the rule with no end date, and it took effect without providing the public with notice and an opportunity to comment.  In response to congressional inquiry and public outcry, DHS pledged to revisit and revise the rule. But more than a year later, the rule remains unchanged.  River users continue to face the prospect of having their right to access an important public resource taken away without any advance warning. DHS could accommodate the public’s concerns by modifying the rule to permit paddlers and other recreational users to pass Trump National on the far, Maryland side of the river, but it has refused to do so.

The following organizations have expressed their support for this action and their legal right to access the river.

The suit was filed against the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.


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