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A lawsuit by San Francisco challenging the Trump administration’s withdrawal of guidelines on issues affecting poor and disabled people has been dismissed by a federal judge, who said the city could not show how it would be harmed by the repeal.
The Justice Department guidelines, issued during the final years of the Obama presidency, included standards for state and local courts to avoid disproportionately harming poor people when imposing criminal fines. Another set of standards addressed compliance with a Supreme Court ruling requiring state and local governments to allow disabled people to live in their own homes or group homes and share workplaces with able-bodied workers. Further guidelines advised employers on compliance with laws banning job discrimination based on national origin.
Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew the guidelines in December 2017 after President Trump ordered an overall reduction in federal regulations. Sessions offered only a general explanation for his action, saying the repealed guidelines were “unnecessary, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper.”
The city’s lawsuit, filed in April, accused Sessions of violating a federal law that requires the government to engage in “reasoned decision-making” and provide meaningful explanations for actions that have legal consequences.
In dismissing the suit on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar did not address the legality of the Trump administration’s actions, but instead cited his earlier ruling that San Francisco lacked legal standing to mount the legal challenge.
City lawyers argued that the repeal of guidelines protecting poor defendants from excessive fines would harm San Francisco by impoverishing more of its residents and making them more dependent on local public services. Tigar said the argument was speculative and did not show the likelihood of an impact on city government.
“The city cannot simply claim a concrete interest in the financial well-being of all potential future residents,” the judge said. He also said San Francisco could not show that it faced federal enforcement action, or other tangible harm, from the withdrawal of guidelines interpreting laws that protect the disabled and the foreign-born.
John Coté, spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said Tigar’s ruling does not resolve the legality of the Trump administration’s rollback of “rights for the poor, people of color, people with disabilities and others.”
“The court ruled that San Francisco does not have the legal standing to sue for those violations,” Coté said. “Somebody else could — and we hope they do.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Judge-dismisses-SF-suit-over-Trump-administration-13635459.php.