Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Quick facts:

Last updated: 4/5/18

Note: In the interest of transparency, references here to “the Trump Administration” broadly refers to President Trump individually, cabinet agencies and/or other federal agencies and commissions since January 20, 2017.

  • Total litigation filed against Trump Administration: 24
  • Total cases resolved in Washington's favor: 5
    • Two by court decision, three conceded by Trump Administration following lawsuit
  • Successful outcomes that are not yet resolved: 4
  • Total cases led by Washington: 7
  • Total cases led by other states in a multistate group: 17
  • Cost to taxpayers: negligible 

Relevant documents:

Letter to Sen. Schoesler detailing the cost to taxpayers related to this litigation.

Case overviews:

Successful Outcomes

1. Washington v. Trump (original travel ban): The travel ban separated families, divided employers from employees, and prohibited students and professors from resuming studies in the United States. In addition, many individuals lawfully in Washington state were denied the right to visit family members abroad, or travel for business. When Washington challenged the constitutionality and legality of the travel ban in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on January 30, 2017, individuals with green cards and valid visas were subject to the travel ban and being turned away at airports.

Washington’s complaint included dozens of declarations from Washington businesses, colleges and universities, and national security experts.

Judge James Robart, appointed by President George W. Bush, ruled in Washington’s favor on February 3, 2017, granting a nationwide temporary restraining order. On February 9, in a unanimous opinion, a panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the injunction. The Trump Administration chose not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, rescinded the executive order, and agreed to reimburse Washington’s costs related to the appeal.

Washington (lead), joined by Minnesota initially, and later California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon.

2. New York v. Perry (energy efficiency standards): On March 31, 2017, the Washington state Attorney General’s Office and a multistate coalition of attorneys general sought review from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the administration’s unlawful delay in implementing new energy efficiency rules for ceiling fans. After the states filed the lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Energy conceded and announced that the rules would go into effect.

The energy efficiency rules are estimated to reduce electrical consumption by about 200 billion kilowatt hours over the next three decades, saving consumers anywhere from $4.5 billion to $12.1 billion in energy costs.

New York (lead), Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and District of Columbia.

3. Clean Air Council, et al. v. EPA (new oil and gas facilities): On June 20, 2017, state attorneys general intervened in a lawsuit against the EPA challenging delays in implementing a rule regulating emissions from new oil and gas facilities. The rule provides important protections for Washington’s residents against the release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that has more than 80 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. The effects of methane cannot be reversed or undone.

On July 3, the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of Washington state, finding that the EPA had violated the Clean Air Act. Industry intervenors sought en banc review. On August 10, 2017, with an 8-3 decision, the D.C. Circuit Court denied en banc review. 

California (co-lead), Massachusetts (co-lead), Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and District of Columbia.

4. New York v. EPA (ground-level ozone standards): On August 1, 2017, 15 states, including Washington, filed suit against the EPA in the D.C. Circuit after Administrator Pruitt announced his decision to delay designating which areas of the country met the new ground-level ozone standards. The next day, Administrator Pruitt reversed course and withdrew the decision to delay. 

New York (lead), California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and District of Columbia.

5. California, et al. v. U.S. Department of Transportation (vehicle emissions rule): On September 20, 2017, Washington and eight other states filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California after the Federal Highway Administration unlawfully suspended the effective date of an important rule aimed at reducing greenhouse gases without notice or opportunity for comment. The rule requires states to measure the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by on-road vehicles on the national highway system and to set targets for reducing those emissions.

The Federal Highway Administration has since conceded and announced the rules would immediately go into effect pending a procedurally valid repeal.

California (lead), Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

 

Successful Outcomes Not Yet Resolved

1. Karnoski, et al. v. Trump, et al. (military transgender ban): Washington is home to 60,000 members of the active and reserve military, including over 8,000 soldiers and airmen in the Washington National Guard. The National Guard is integral to Washington’s emergency preparedness and disaster recovery planning. President Trump’s ban on transgender individuals in the military applies to Washington’s National Guard as well as the active duty military, restricting the Guard’s recruiting pool.

Our motion to intervene was granted on November 14, 2017. On December 11, 2017, Judge Marsha Pechman granted a preliminary injunction, blocking President Trump's ban on transgender individuals in the military while the case moves forward. The Department of Justice has decided not to appeal the injunction.

2. New York, et al. v. Trump (DACA): On September 6, 2017, Washington and 16 other states filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York seeking to halt President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The president’s decision ends protections for 17,000 Dreamers in Washington state alone. These Dreamers are constituents of the members of your caucus. Dreamers were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own. They are attending our universities, working for our state agencies and local governments, and contributing to our economy. In addition to seeking a halt to the president’s decision to end DACA, this lawsuit seeks to prevent the federal government from misusing personal information Dreamers provided the government in good faith in order to sign up for DACA after being promised that information would not be used to deport them or their families.

On Feb. 13, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis granted the states' request for a preliminary injuction, blocking President Donald Trump's effort to end the DACA program. On March 29,2018, Judge Garaufis ruled that the states' constitutional challenge to Trump's decision can go forward.

  • Washington (co-lead), New York (co-lead), Massachusetts (co-lead), Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and District of Columbia.

3. California, et al. v. Perry (energy efficiency standards for appliances): On June 13, 2017, Washington and 10 other states filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California over the Trump Administration’s unlawful delay of new energy efficiency standards for walk-in coolers and freezers, portable air conditioners, and other appliances. The standards will save consumers at least $4.7 billion in energy costs.

On Feb. 15, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria granted the states' motion for summary judgement, and ordered the administration to publish the new standards within the next 28 days.

  • California (lead), New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and City of New York.

4. California v. Pruitt (ground level ozone): On December 5, 2017, Washington and 14 other states filed a lawsuit accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of violating the Clean Air Act by delaying air quality standards for ground-level ozone pollution. After Washington and 15 other states filed a lawsuit in July 2017, the EPA withdrew its decision to delay the deadline for designating which areas around the country did and did not comply with new standards. However, the EPA failed to meet the October 1, 2017, deadline for the designations.

On March 12, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. granted summary judgement in favor of the states, ruling that the EPA violated the Clean Air Act and ordering the agency to adopt the designations by no later April 30, 2018.

  • California, New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and District of Columbia.

 

Unresolved Cases against the Trump Administration in Which Washington is the Lead

  • Washington v. Trump, et al. (contraception access): On October 9, 2017, the Washington state Attorney General’s Office filed suit in the Western District of Washington challenging President Trump’s rules restricting contraception access.

If allowed to go forward, President Trump’s rules could have a significant impact on more than 1.5 million Washington workers and their dependents who receive insurance through their employer’s self-funded plan. One study by the Center for American Progress found that contraception costs can generally exceed $1,000 a year without insurance coverage. Some Washington women who currently use contraception may be denied no-cost coverage and be forced to turn to state-funded programs to receive the care they need. State-funded reproductive health services helped more than 90,000 patients in 2016 alone. More than three-quarters of those patients were women who used contraception, saving the state an estimated $160 million in maternal and birth-related costs, according to a report from the Washington State Department of Health.
 

  • Washington v. Trump (amended) (second travel ban): Judge Robart heard Washington’s challenge to the revised travel ban on March 15. Before he could rule, judges in Maryland and Hawaii issued nationwide injunctions blocking the implementation of the ban. Judge Robart chose not to issue a ruling given that the revised travel ban was already halted.
    • Washington (lead), California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon.
       
  • Washington v. Trump (amended) (third travel ban): On October 11, 2017, Washington filed a revised complaint in the Western District of Washington challenging President Trump’s third travel ban. President Trump’s third attempt at a travel ban is broader than previous iterations because rather than imposing a “temporary pause,” it indefinitely bans immigration by individuals from affected countries. Washington’s complaint includes dozens of declarations from individuals, universities, state agencies, healthcare system administrators, and businesses regarding the travel ban’s adverse impacts.
    • Washington (lead), California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon.
       
  • Washington v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC): On January 31, 2018, Washington filed a lawsuit claiming that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission failed to respond to the Attorney General’s Office’s Freedom of Information Act request, seeking communications among FERC commissioners. The state’s November 2017 FOIA request asked for emails and other written communications during a tumultuous time at FERC, including periods in which the Commission failed to have a quorum, failed to hold any public meetings, and considered a proposal from the Department of Energy that would have upended the energy markets. The case is currently pending in federal court.

 

Other Lawsuits against the Trump Administration

Washington has filed eight additional lawsuits against the Trump Administration. These legal actions are all part of multistate lawsuits with another state serving as the lead. This approach allows states to operate efficiently by sharing the work.

  • Massachusetts, et al. v. DeVos, et al. (borrower defense rule): On July 6, 2017, Washington joined 18 other attorneys general to file a lawsuit in the D.C. District against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The lawsuit followed DeVos’ announcement that the Department of Education was delaying indefinitely the implementation of the “borrower defense regulations,” which were set to go into effect on July 1, 2017. The borrower defense regulations provide important consumer protections for prospective, current, and former students of for-profit colleges. For example, under the rules, a state attorney general’s successful litigation against a school for violating consumer protection laws can make its students automatically eligible for student loan forgiveness.
    • Massachusetts (lead), California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and District of Columbia.

 

  • California, et al. v. Zinke, et al. (coal leasing on public lands): On May 9, 2017, Washington and three other states filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, Great Falls Division, challenging the Department of the Interior’s decision to restart a program to lease coal-mining rights on public land without supplementing or replacing its nearly 40-year-old environmental study about the environmental harms of mining on federal land.
    • California (lead), New Mexico, New York, and Washington

 

  • New York v. Pruitt (Chemical Disaster Rule): On July 24, 2017, Washington and 10 other states filed a petition for review with the D.C. Circuit over the Trump Administration’s unlawful delay of the Chemical Disaster Rule. The 2010 Tesoro refinery explosion in Anacortes and other high-profile accidents across the nation prompted the Chemical Disaster Rule. The briefing schedule is set to conclude on January 31, 2018
    • New York (lead), Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

 

 

  • League of United Latin American Citizens v. Pruitt (pesticides): On June 6, 2017, Washington, four other states, and the District of Columbia filed a motion in the Ninth Circuit to intervene in this case, in order to ensure that the EPA completes its review of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos to protect farmworkers and those living in agricultural communities. The motion is pending.
    • New York (lead), Maryland, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, and District of Columbia.

 

 

  • California, et al. v. Trump (cost sharing reduction subsidies): On October 14, 2017, Washington, 16 other states, and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to unilaterally terminate cost-sharing reduction subsidies, which reduce out-of-pocket health care costs for low-income Americans. The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California, asserts that the president’s decision to withhold the payments is illegal and unconstitutional. The Trump Administration’s action will increase the premiums of 100,000 Washingtonians by as much as 28 percent.
    • California (lead), Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and District of Columbia.

 

 

  • Maryland, et al. v. Department of Education (gainful employment rule): On October 17, 2017, Washington, 16 other states, and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education for unlawfully delaying the gainful employment rule. The gainful employment rule keeps colleges from offering worthless degrees and leaving their graduates with high levels of debt. It denies federal financial aid to schools whose graduates do not make enough money to repay the student loans they took out to earn their degrees.
    • Maryland (co-lead), Pennsylvania (co-lead), California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and District of Columbia.

 

 

  • Massachusetts et. al. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security et. al. (FOIA request regarding immigration enforcement): On October 17, 2017, Washington joined nine Attorneys General in a lawsuit accusing the Trump Administration of failing to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request regarding information on federal immigration enforcement. Nearly four months earlier, the Attorneys General requested the information from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services and U.S. Customs & Border Protection, all agencies within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The AGs filed suit after the agencies failed to disclose the information.
    • Massachusetts (lead) California, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia.

 

  • New York et. al. v. Pruitt et. al. (Waters of the United States): On Feb. 6, 2018, we joined 10 other Attorneys General to file a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to suspend the “waters of the United States” rule. The rule provides much-needed clarity about which waters qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act, and which waters are only regulated by sometimes inconsistent state laws. The “waters of the United States” rule applies the Clean Water Act to both navigable waters and upstream waters that impact the chemical, physical and biological integrity of navigable waters, providing uniformity for state and federal regulators and project managers alike.

    • New York (lead), California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.

 

  • New York et. al. v. Federal Communications Commission (net neutrality): On Feb. 22, 2018, Washington, 21 other states and the District of Columbia sought review of the Federal Communications Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Declaratory Ruling, Report and Order. The states contend the FCC's decision to repeal Obama-era “net neutrality” rules violates the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act and the Communications Act of 1934. The appeal is currently proceeding in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

    • New York (lead), California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.

 

  • New York et. al. v. U.S. Department of Commerce (Census question on citizenship): On April 3, 2018, Washington, 16 other states and the District of Columbia, in addition to six cities and San Francisco County, filed a lawsuit to block the addition of a question regarding U.S. citizenship to the 2020 Census. The lawsuit argues that, according to the Census Bureau’s own research, adding such a question will depress participation in the Census, potentially resulting in an undercount that will adversely impact congressional representation and jeopardize some of the billions of dollars in federal funding allocated based on Census data.

    • New York (lead), Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia; Cities of Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Providence and Seattle; City and County of San Francisco; and the United States Conference of Mayors.

 

  • New York, et al. v. Pruitt (existing oil and gas facilities): On April 5, 2018, state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the EPA and EPA head Scott Pruitt, challenging delays in implementing a rule regulating emissions from existing oil and gas facilities. Once the EPA adopts a rule to limit emissions from new and modified facilities in a given industrial sector, which it did in 2016, it must establish guidelines for limiting emissions from existing facilities. Pruitt abruptly ordered the EPA to halt the process for establishing guidelines for existing oil and gas facilities in March 2017. The rule provides important protections for Washington’s residents against the release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that has more than 80 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Existing oil and natural gas facilities will account for up to 90 percent of the total methane emissions by facilities in 2018.

    • New York (lead), California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and the City of Chicago