The Washington DC Police Union filed suit Wednesday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia against the city, seeking to block part of an emergency police reform bill passed in July.
The Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Second Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 was approved by the District of Columbia (DC) Council on July 7, and Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the act on July 27. The emergency act was passed in response to the killing of George Floyd and resulting protests throughout the nation.
Section 116 of the act amended Section 1708 of the DC government Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act (CMPA), removing the right of the DC Police Union to negotiate with management regarding discipline of its members. Under the CMPA, all DC government employees had the right to bargain with management concerning the discipline of members. Out of 45 labor unions representing DC government employees, the DC Police Union was the only union stripped of the right to negotiate.
In the complaint, the union alleged that Section 116 violated the Equal Protection requirements of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, because the government placed law enforcement into a distinct class and discriminated against them by stripping their rights to bargain. The complaint also alleged that the legislation violated the Bill of Attainder Clause, because it was “offered as a punishment of sworn law enforcement officers in the District of Columbia to quell rising tensions and protests in the District coming as a result of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.”
The union alleged that the law violated the Contracts Clause of the Constitution, because the government was impeding upon the DC Police Union’s contractual relationships. Finally, the union alleged that Section 116 violated substantive due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, because it “is an arbitrary, severe, and permanent infringement upon the rights of the District’s sworn law enforcement officers and the DC Police Union.”
Because of this, the union requested that the court declare Section 116 invalid and unconstitutional, and that the court permanently enjoin the approval, enactment, and enforcement of the section.