APA-led Class Action Lawsuit Prevails

In February, a judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit known as American Philosophical Association et al. v. District of Columbia.

The lawsuit was started in 2017 by the American Philosophical Association and the American Anthropological Association.

It concerned a provision of District law that gave “semipublic institutions”—such as nonprofit academic, educational, and charitable organizations—that have offices in Washington, DC a hotel and sales tax exemption, but did not give the same exemption to semipublic institutions without offices in DC.

The Superior Court of the District of Columbia ruled that the law violates the U.S Constitution’s Commerce Clause. According to a press release from attorneys involved in the case,

that Clause prohibits a state, including the District, from discriminating against out-of-state entities when they participate in its economy. Thus, the District, in favoring its own resident organizations, was found to have discriminated un-Constitutionally against such entities from other states. Not a single other state imposes a residency requirement on semipublic institutions in order to obtain a tax exemption when engaging in commerce in it.

The case will now move to determining how much in damages DC must pay, and to whom.

Further details here.

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