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Vincent B. Orange
Press release on Superior Court Decision in Cropp v. Williams
August 1, 2003




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Office of Councilmember Vincent B. Orange, Ward 5
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 108 Washington, DC

For Immediate Release
August 1, 2003

Councilmember Vincent B. Orange’s Press Statement Addressing Today’s Court Decision on the Inspector General Law

Washington, D.C. – In the ruling handed down by Judge Campbell today, the court determined that the Council had the authority to enhance the qualifications of the Office of the Inspector General. He noted that "the defendant Mayor does not contest the Council’s authority to set such qualifications, and makes no serious challenge here to the reasonableness of the newly enacted qualifications themselves." It is troubling, therefore, and seemingly inconsistent that crucially important provisions of a law deemed valid by the court will not go into effect for a number of years.

The Office of the Inspector General is not a purely executive position as the ruling suggests. The independent nature and function of the office necessarily distinguishes this position from other agency heads who work at the direct behest of the executive. It is those positions that properly fall exclusively within the Mayor’s executive authority – not a quasi-independent agency that may at times be required to take actions contrary to the will of the Mayor and which may affect him adversely. For this reason, I do not believe that the Council, in passing this law, truly encroached upon the Mayor’s executive authority.

Finally, a key question that remains unanswered in this ruling is whether the Mayor is entitled to thumb his nose at the Council and refuse to enforce laws that he independently deems to be invalid. Judge Campbell addressed the issue during oral arguments and asked the Corporation Council whether the Mayor would enforce the law if he ruled for the Council. He did not, however, fully probe the underlying position of the executive that they would look to the Corporation Council to declare laws valid or invalid without even seeking independent judicial review. Herein lies the true separation of powers issue – that the Mayor would unilaterally obviate the will of the Council and issue a "super-veto" to which he is not entitled.

These are matters of considerable importance. The citizens of the District of Columbia should not have a good law which demands good governance placed on hold. It is my hope that all of these issues will be more substantively reviewed and addressed as the Council pursues this matter on appeal and takes further steps to protect its ability to legislate effectively for the betterment of our city and its citizens.

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