Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Quick facts:

Last updated: 11/7/17

  • Total litigation filed against Trump Administration: 17
  • Total cases led by Washington: 6
  • Total cases led by other states in a multistate group: 11
  • Total cases resolved in Washington's favor: 5
    • Two by court decision, three conceded by Trump Administration following lawsuit

Relevant documents:

Letter to Sen. Schoesler

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, 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, 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 The Trump Administration chose not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, rescinded the executive order, and agreed to reimburse Washington’s costs related to the appeal.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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.

 

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

  • New York, et al. v. Trump (DACA): On September 6, 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.

    The case is currently in the discovery phase. The court scheduled a hearing for January 18, 2018.

    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.
     

  • Washington v. Trump, et al. (contraception access): On October 9, 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, 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. Judge Robart set a hearing for oral argument on October 30.

    Washington (lead), California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon.
     

  • 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.

    We filed our motion to intervene on September 25 in the Western District of Washington and are currently awaiting the court’s ruling.

 

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, we 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, 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.
     

  • California, et al. v. Perry (energy efficiency standards for appliances): On June 13, 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.

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

  • New York v. Pruitt (Chemical Disaster Rule): On July 24, 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, 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, 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, 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.