Red Line Civil Rights Case Closed “Without Finding”

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has closed its investigation into whether the cancellation of the Red Line Light Rail Project in Baltimore City compromised Baltimore residents’ civil rights – “without finding.”

In 2015, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with U.S. DOT alleging that the project’s cancellation has a violative disparate impact on African-Americans in Baltimore. The Obama Administration extended the investigation to look more broadly into the Maryland Department of Transportation’s compliance with the Civil Rights Act.

This week, the U.S. DOT sent the Hogan Administration a letter explaining that “the appropriate course of action is to administratively close the complaint, without finding.” According to The Baltimore Sun:

The letter did not explain why the case was closed. …

Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn described the letter from the federal department as “self-explanatory.”

“If there are any issues in the compliance review, USDOT will discuss those with us,” he said in a statement.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the decision.

“The complaint … raised critical questions about this decision’s impact on Baltimore’s residents — particularly African-American residents,” Cummings said in a statement. “I am deeply disappointed that the U.S. Department of Transportation is summarily closing the complaint without issuing any findings.”

A separate investigation, opened on the final day of President Barack Obama’s administration, will continue. That review looks more broadly at whether decisions by the state transportation department have violated the Civil Rights Act.

But that broader review will not likely be as thorough as the investigation that would have taken place if the department followed through on the complaint.