According to an August 3, 2009 article in the Daily Record, less than two months after advocates for Baltimore foster children and Maryland announced a new proposal to resolve a long-running federal class-action lawsuit against the state, the state is arguing that the federal court lacks the authority to enforce it.
Since the initial lawsuit was filed in 1984, the two sides have wrangled over how to improve the system; they reached a consent decree early on, but the advocates argue that the state has never complied with it. On June 23, 2009, both sides announced they had agreed on a new consent decree that would put the foster care system on the right track and end court oversight within 18 months.
According to the article, the state is asking the U.S. District Court to consider whether a Supreme Court decision handed down June 25 means that the court does not have the power to enforce either the proposed new consent decree or the one that has been in effect since 1988.
"It puts the current reform initiative at great risk, and it puts the commitments that the department has made with us at great risk," said Venable partner Mitch Mirviss, one of the lawyers for the children. "It's too early to tell, but for the foster children, this could be a tremendous step backwards."