In his May 31 Local Opinions commentary, “D.C.’s untenable legal quandary,” former D.C. attorney general Irvin B. Nathan asserted that a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia left the District in “a terrible state of legal limbo.” Just the opposite: By vacating a district judge’s decision overturning the budget autonomy act, the court left no doubt that the act is now law.
Mr. Nathan predicted that the District’s chief financial officer may refuse to follow the law. But he has no authority to do that. Public officials cannot pick and choose which laws to follow. They are bound to abide by the law. Moreover, the District’s public officials — including the attorney general — have an obligation to advocate in favor of laws and policies that serve the public interest, which the budget autonomy act clearly does. The act was ratified by 83 percent of D.C. voters and is a great step forward for local democracy.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Nathan continues to argue against the budget autonomy act. It is even more unfortunate that he has criticized the three federal judges who issued the decision for engaging in “misguided . . . judicial activism” and has called for Congress to overturn the act. I hope that the current, elected attorney general takes a different approach. It is his duty to do so.
Kimberly Perry, Washington
The writer is executive director of D.C. Vote.