Bellinger v. Bowser

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FRANCEL BELLINGER et al., Plaintiffs, v. Civil Action No. 17-2124 (TJK) MURIEL BOWSER et al., Defendants. MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Plaintiffs have filed suit against various District of Columbia public officials, alleging that they have unlawfully failed to provide Capitol View Library, which serves a predominantly black neighborhood, with the same renovations and related services provided to other public library branches that serve predominately white neighborhoods. Before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Amended Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, which requests that the Court order Defendants to provide additional resources to Capitol View Library, make changes to its renovation plans, and enjoin its re-opening, which is scheduled for December 18, 2017. See ECF No. 19-1 (“Am. Mot.”). There is little doubt that Plaintiffs are dissatisfied with the way in which Capitol View Library’s renovation has proceeded. That is unfortunate, but it is not a basis to grant their motion. The Court finds that they are not likely to succeed on the merits of their claims here, nor will they suffer irreparable injury absent the injunctive relief sought. Moreover, the balance of the equities and the public interest weigh against the relief. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ motion is DENIED. I. Background A. Factual Background The District of Columbia Public Library (“DCPL”) is a free public library system that was created by Congress in 1896. See ECF No. 24 (“Def. Opp.”) at 2; D.C. Code § 39-101. DCPL is administered by a nine-member Board of Trustees, and consists of a central library and twenty-five branch libraries in neighborhoods throughout the District of Columbia. Def. Opp. at 2; D.C. Code §§ 39-101, 39-104. The central library and all branch libraries are open to all residents of the District of Columbia, regardless of the neighborhood in which they reside. Def. Opp. at 30; D.C. Code § 39-103. Capitol View Library is a DCPL branch library located in Ward 7 that serves a predominantly black neighborhood. Am. Mot. at 3; Def. Opp. at 2. Decisions related to DCPL’s capital and operations funding are made by the Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia (the “Council”) through the District of Columbia’s annual budget process. See Am. Mot. at 4; Def. Opp. at 3; D.C. Code § 39-106. Since Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2008, this process has authorized funding for renovations at eighteen full-service DCPL branch libraries throughout the District of Columbia. See Def. Opp. at 3. Renovations for two additional DCPL branch libraries were separately funded through another budget mechanism. Id. By early November 2017, renovations had been completed at fifteen of these DCPL branch libraries. Id. Five of these projects, including the renovation of Capitol View Library, are still in progress. Id. In the FY 2015 budget, Capitol View Library’s renovation was initially allocated $10.5 million in funding, but that amount was reduced to $4.5 million in the FY 2016 budget due to the overall reduction of the DCPL capital budget. Am. Mot. at 4; Def. Opp. at 5. ...

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