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American Federation of Government Employees v. Trump

In May 2018, President Trump issued three Executive Orders relating to federal sector employment. The Executive Orders, among other things, prevented unions and federal agencies from negotiating over topics long-included in collective bargaining, limited unions’ abilities to represent members in grievance proceedings, and excluded certain conditions of employment from Congressionally-mandated grievance procedures. Four different groups of unions sued the President and other government officials in federal district court in Washington, DC, arguing that the statutory scheme established by Congress in 1978 eliminated the President’s authority to unilaterally act in such a way, and that specific provisions of the Executive Order conflicted with the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (FSLMRS), as well as the Constitution.

Public Citizen Litigation Group represented a bipartisan group of current and former members of the House of Representatives as amici curiae in support of the plaintiffs. On August 24, 2018, the district court issued an order declaring numerous provisions of the Executive Orders invalid, including all of the provisions we discussed in our brief. The Court explained that the directives in the provisions it declared invalid undermined federal employees’ statutorily-protected right to bargain collectively, and that, therefore, the President exceeded his authority in issuing them.

The defendants appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where we again filed an amicus brief on behalf of the current and former members of Congress. Our brief argued that the Executive Orders are contrary to the framework for labor-management relations in the federal government established by Congress in the FSLMRS. On July 16, 2019, the court of appeals reversed, holding that the district court had lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case.