LDF Statement on U.S. Transportation Department’s Decision to Close Red Line Inquiry

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation served notice in a letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation that it has closed the complaint without finding.

In December of 2015, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF); the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center; Covington & Burling LLP; and the ACLU of Maryland, filed a complaint with the U. S. Department of Transportation on behalf of the Baltimore Regional Initiative Developing Genuine Equality, Inc. and African-American residents of Baltimore, challenging the state’s decision to cancel plans for the “Red Line” rail system for Baltimore City. Our complaint argued that because the cancellation had a disparate impact on African-American citizens, it violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits state agencies that engage in discrimination from receiving federal funds.

LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill issued the following statement:

“We are extremely disappointed by the Transportation Department’s abrupt decision to close the Red Line complaint without any explanation whatsoever. The closure of the complaint without a single factual statement to justify the decision is an insult to the residents of Baltimore who have waited for more than 50 years to see the Red Line built. And it shamefully deepens a history of discriminatory state and federal housing and transportation policies that prevent Black Americans from having equal access to good jobs, safe neighborhoods, and quality schools.

“Sadly, this summary decision by the Department of Transportation is part of what has become a predictable pattern from this administration. From the DOJ’s attempts to slow police reform efforts and walk back challenges to voter suppression, to the dismantling of the Education Department’s civil rights office, it is all too clear that this administration is prepared to abdicate its responsibility to enforce our nation’s civil rights statutes.”



Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.