District Council made any substantial changes.
Having completed that consideration, the Court denies the motions to intervene and the motion for class certification, and vacates the stay.
The District Council and the IRO contend that this Court has no authority under the Consent Decree to subject the Restructuring Plan to judicial review. This threshold issue must be resolved. If this Court does not have the power to review the Restructuring Plan, then intervention by the petitioners in this action, for the purpose of objecting to a Plan that the Court cannot review, becomes a futile endeavor. The answer to this threshold issue lies in the nature and the wording of the Consent Decree, which brought to an end the civil RICO action commenced by the United States.
Although consent decrees are a hybrid of contract and judicial pronouncement, they "should be construed basically as contracts." United States v. ITT Continental Baking Co., 420 U.S. 223, 236-37, 43 L. Ed. 2d 148, 95 S. Ct. 926 (1975). Accordingly, "the scope of a consent decree must be discerned within its four corners, and not by reference to what might satisfy the purposes of the one of the parties to it." United States v. Armour & Co., 402 U.S. 673, 682, 29 L. Ed. 2d 256, 91 S. Ct. 1752 (1971). "The court is not entitled to expand or contract the agreement of the parties as set forth in the consent decree, and the explicit language of the decree is given great weight." Berger v. Heckler, 771 F.2d 1556, 1568 (2d Cir. 1985) (citations omitted). Similarly, "[a] court may not replace the terms of a consent decree with its own, no matter how much of an improvement it would make in effectuating the decree's goals." United States v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 998 F.2d 1101, 1107 (2d Cir. 1993).
The dispute between the proposed intervenors and the parties to this action centers on whether the Consent Decree requires prior court approval of the Restructuring Plan. The petitioners argue that P 4(g) of the Consent Decree requires court approval before the District Council may implement the Plan. The District Council, the government, and the IRO disagree; they assert that P 12, rather than P 4(g), is the appropriate provision.
Construing the Consent Decree "as it is written," Armour, 402 U.S. at 682, I conclude that prior court approval of the Restructuring Plan is not required.
Paragraph 4 of the Consent Decree, titled "The Investigations and Review Officer," sets forth the "powers, rights and responsibilities" of the IRO. Specifically, P 4(g) vests the IRO with the authority to "study the operations of the District Council and its constituent locals, and . . . recommend changes to improve those operations." Furthermore, "upon notice to the Government and the District Council, the Investigations and Review Officer shall apply to the Court for approval of the final recommendations, if any, concerning improvements to the rules and procedures of the District Council and its constituent locals." Consent Decree, P 4(g). Thus, while P 4(g) clearly requires prior court approval, that provision by its express terms applies only to changes proposed by the IRO.
In contrast, changes initiated by the District Council are governed by P 12 of the Consent Decree, titled "Future Practices." According to this paragraph,
The parties intend the provisions set forth herein to govern the District Council's practices in the areas affected by this Consent Decree, now and in the future. The District Council shall give prior written notice to the Government and to the Investigations and Review Officer of any proposed changes to the By-Laws. In addition, the District Council shall inform the Government and the Investigations and Review Officer of any changes in any rules or procedures adopted or implemented pursuant to paragraphs 4(g) [changes originally proposed by the IRO], 4(h) [job referral procedures], 4(i)(3) [election rules], 5 [job referral rules], 9(c) [future election procedures], and 10 [prohibition on multiple office holding] of this Consent Decree.  If the Investigations and Review Officer or the Government objects to the proposed change as inconsistent with the terms or objectives of this Consent Decree, the change shall then not occur, provided that, upon such objection the District Council may apply to the Court for a determination as to whether the proposed change is consistent with the terms and objectives of this Consent Decree.