MAPP v. COURT
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. Signed by Judge Royce C. Lamberth on April 28, 2014. (lcrcl4 )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Civil No. 13-329 (RCL)
Plaintiff Monica Mapp, a former probation officer for the District of Columbia Superior
Court, filed suit against the District alleging multiple counts of discrimination in violation of the
Family and Medical Leave Act, the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act (“DCFMLA”), Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the D.C. Human Rights
Act (“DCHRA”). The District has moved to dismiss the DCHRA claims—Counts IX, X, and
XIII of the Amended Complaint—on the ground that the DCHRA, which prohibits employment
discrimination, does not apply to the D.C. Superior Court.
For the reasons explained herein,
the Court agrees and therefore GRANTS the District’s motion.
From its inception in 1836 until 1970, the United States District Court for the District of
Columbia served the dual roles of a local and federal court, “hear[ing] and decid[ing] the full
range of local common law and equitable questions, in addition to its regular calendar of federal
questions and diversity actions.” Shutack v. Shutack, 516 F. Supp. 219, 221 (D.D.C. 1981). In
The Court’s November 25, 2013, Opinion  provided a lengthy account of the facts the case.
For purposes of the present opinion, the Court will highlight only those facts relevant to the
1970, Congress enacted the District of Columbia Court Reorganization Act, Pub.L.No.91-358,
Title I, 84 Stat. 475, which
reorganized the court system in the District of Columbia and
established one set of courts in the District with Art. III
characteristics and devoted to matters of national concern [and]
created a wholly separate court system designed primarily to
concern itself with local law and to serve as a local court system
for a large metropolitan area.
Palmore v. United States, 411 U.S. 389, 408 (1973). In addition to establishing the D.C.
Superior Court and the D.C. Court of Appeals, the Reorganization Act provided that a Joint
Committee on Judicial Administration “shall have responsibility within the District of Columbia
court system for . . . [g]eneral personnel policies, including those for recruitment, removal,
compensation, and training.” D.C. Code § 11-1701. The Act also stated that “[a]ppointments
and removals of court personnel shall not be subject to the laws, rules, and limitations applicable
to District of Columbia employees.” D.C. Code § 11-1725.
Shortly thereafter, in 1973, Congress furthered its goal of an independent local
government for the District by enacting the Home Rule Act, which ceded some federal control of
the city to an elected mayor and city council. Congress was clear, however, that the local
Superior Court and Court of Appeals “shall continue as provided under the District of Columbia
Court Reorganization Act of 1970.” D.C. Code § 1-207.18. Moreover, Congress explicitly
forbade the new council from enacting “any act, resolution, or rule with respect to any provision
of [the Court Reorganization Act] (relating to organization and jurisdiction of the District of
Columbia courts).” D.C. Code § 1-206.02.
Against this background, the D.C. City Council enacted the D.C. Human Rights Act of
1977 to “secure an end in the District of Columbia to discrimination for any reason other than
that of individual merit.” D.C. Code § 2-1401.01. To this end, the DCHRA established Office
on Human Rights to receive, review, investigate, and mediate employment discrimination claims
in the District. D.C. Code § 2-1411.03. If the Office finds probable cause and is unable to
mediate a violation, the complaint is forwarded to the Commission on Human Rights, an
“impartial forum for the hearing and deciding of cases of unlawful discrimination in
employment.” D.C. Code § 2-1404.02. Both the Office and the Commission are executive
agencies and have broad power to remedy discrimination in all aspects of employment (e.g.,
appointments, removal, compensation, training, etc.). The District’s motion raises the question
whether this broad power fatally conflicts with the Reorganization and Home Rule Acts. The
Court holds that it does, and accordingly, that the DCHRA is inapplicable to employees of the
D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Court of Appeals.
“Statutory construction must begin with the language employed by Congress and the
assumption that the ordinary meaning of that language accurately expresses the legislative
purpose.” Park ‘N Fly, Inc. v. Dollar Park & Fly, Inc., 469 U.S. 189, 194 (1985). Here, the
statutory language is plain and unambiguous: The D.C. City Council may not regulate matters
covered by the Reorganization Act, which expressly reserves management of personnel policies
to the Joint Committee and explicitly exempts appointments and removals of court personnel
from regulations generally applicable to District employees. Where, as here, the statutory
language is clear, “that is the end of judicial inquiry in all but the most extraordinary
circumstances.” United States v. Braxtonbrown-Smith, 278 F.3d 1348, 1352 (D.C. Cir. 2002)
(internal quotations omitted). None of the four arguments raised by Ms. Mapp are sufficiently
extraordinary to merit departure from the unambiguous words of Congress.
First, the plaintiff argues that the exemptions of the Court Reorganization Act are limited
to “procedural and administrative protections afforded to employees of the District of Columbia
Government.” Pl.’s Opp. 4. But this argument is defeated by the absence of any limiting
language in the statute.
Second, Ms. Mapp asserts that exempting Superior Court employees from the DCHRA
“is the province of the legislative authority for the District of Columbia, the City Council, not
this Court.” Pl.’s Opp. 4. Not so. The legislative power of the City Council is subordinate to
the sovereign power of the Congress, District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co., 346 U.S.
100, 107 (1953), and as such, the Council must legislate within the boundaries drawn by
Congress. Any legislation concerning court personnel policies exceeds those boundaries and is
Third, Ms. Mapp argues that the parenthetical in the Home Rule Act, forbidding “any act,
resolution, or rule with respect to any provision of [the Court Reorganization Act] (relating to
organization and jurisdiction of the District of Columbia courts),” D.C. Code § 1-206.02
(emphasis added), limits the prohibition on council action to regulations regarding organization
and jurisdiction. Adopting this interpretation would render the statutory scheme regarding home
rule in the District inconsistent. On one hand, the Reorganization Act would reserve regulation
of court personnel for the Joint Committee, while the Home Rule Act would permit regulation of
court personnel by the Office and Commission on Human Rights. The Supreme Court has
rejected internally inconsistent statutory interpretations, instructing that “the words of a statute
must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme.”
Food & Drug Admin. v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 133 (2000). Courts
should therefore interpret statutory language “as a symmetrical and coherent regulatory scheme,
and fit, if possible, all parts into an harmonious whole.” Id. (internal quotations and citations
omitted). In addition to providing a harmonious interpretation of the statutory scheme, reading
the parenthetical as explanatory rather than restrictive comports with the holding of other courts
that “relating to” parentheticals are “descriptive and not limiting.” Garrido-Morato v. Gonzales,
485 F.3d 319, 322 n.1 (5th Cir. 2007); see also, e.g., United States v. Abdur-Rahman, 708 F.3d
98, 100 (2d Cir. 2013).
Finally, the plaintiff’s concern that without the DCHRA, the District’s courts would
escape anti-discrimination regulation is diminished by the fact that local courts remain subject to
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful for “an employer . . . to fail or
refuse to hire . . . or otherwise to discriminate against any individual . . . because of such
individual’s . . . gender.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1)...
In sum, the Court holds that the Court Reorganization Act and the Home Rule Act
prohibit the D.C. City Council from regulating the personnel policies of D.C. courts. The
DCHRA is therefore inapplicable to court employees, and accordingly, Counts IX, X, and XIII
of the Amended Complaint are dismissed.
The Court notes that the same argument advanced as to the DCHRA counts may be
equally applicable to the plaintiff’s DCFMLA claims. If the District intends to advance this
argument, it is directed to do so within ten days of this opinion. Moreover, the Court GRANTS
the District’s pending Motion to Stay, Nunc Pro Tunc, the Deadline for Filing An Answer to the
Amendment Complaint . The District must file its answer within ten days of this opinion.
A separate Order consistent with this Memorandum Opinion shall issue this date.
Signed by Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge, on April 28, 2014.
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