Federal Consent Decree Fairness Act
The Committee on Civil Rights sent a letter to Congress expressing opposition to the proposed Federal Consent Decree Fairness Act (H.R. 3041), which would allow a state or local government or official to file a motion to modify or vacate a federal consent decree four years after the decree is entered or after the expiration of the term of office of the top state or local official who authorized the consent decree, whichever occurs first. The letter maintains that the proposed legislation will diminish the use of consent decrees to resolve civil rights lawsuits against state and local authorities in the federal courts, undermining the effective enforcement of the federal civil rights laws. Allowing motions to vacate consent decrees based on the mere passage of time or a change in state or local administration, without allegations of a meaningful change in the conduct that the decrees address, will significantly burden the courts and undermine the effectiveness of consent decrees as a tool to effectively resolve disputes.