Third-Party Payments in Government Litigation Settlements

In June of 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo prohibiting the Department of Justice from directing settlement payments to non-governmental third parties that are “neither victims nor parties to the lawsuits” when the Department is engaged in litigation. The memo halted a practice that was utilized by the Bush and Obama administrations and now may make a return under the Biden administration.

Some view these third-party payments in government litigation settlements as an unconstitutional encroachment on Congress’s spending power that should remain proscribed, but some see them as a legitimate measure to advance policy goals, particularly when it comes to environmental enforcement.

On April 14, the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project and Practice Groups hosted a webinar featuring experts on both sides of the issue discussing the practice and whether it will – and should – be utilized once again by the new administration.


As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

Ryan Dean Newman

Former Acting Assistant Attorney General

Office of Legal Policy, United States Department of Justice

Justin A. Savage

Global Co-Lead, Environmental Team

Sidley Austin LLP

John Shu

Attorney and Legal Commentator

Annie Donaldson Talley


Luther Strange and Associates

Enforcement & Agency Coercion

Federalist Society’s Practice Groups

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