Last year’s government shutdown may seem like a distant memory to some, but the 16-day-long standoff in Washington over the budget is still reverberating in court.
The Wall Street Journal reported that a federal judge in Virginia later this month is expected to hear arguments in a dispute between the U.S. Forest Service and a national group of campground operators who claim the Obama administration made an “arbitrary” decision to shut them down during last fall’s budget battle.
The lawsuit is the latest test of the executive branch’s power to decide what parts of the federal government are allowed to keep running during budget impasses like the one in October, which brought much of the federal government to a halt for 16 days.
The plaintiffs, led by the California-based National Forest Recreation Association, say the Forest Service had no legal justification under the law to close National Forest campgrounds operated by private businesses.
The suit, which was filed in October, claims that the campgrounds and recreation areas should have been allowed to remain open because they don’t rely upon the federal government for funding and that private staff could have safely managed the sites. The group says the Forest Service carried out what it described as politically driven orders from the Obama administration, costing businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
“We think it was an arbitrary decision to just close the campgrounds,” the group’s executive director, Marily Reese, told Law Blog on Wednesday (Jan. 15). A spokesman for the Forest Service didn’t respond to a request for comment.
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