A day after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency – in an attempt to circumvent Congress and redirect taxpayer money to fund 230 miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border – the designation has been beset with political and legal challenges.
Democrats painted Trump’s declaration as evidence of a rogue president who has finally gone too far, and they vowed to stop him. While some Republicans said they supported Trump, others expressed disapproval, fearing the move would set an undesired precedent or deprive other projects of necessary funds.
Even in his declaration, Trump said he expected to be sued and anticipated the Supreme Court would ultimately decide the case. Still, in a news conference Friday, Trump justifed the executive action in hopes of fulfilling a campaign promise that has eluded him for two years due to the Democrat party.
The legal challenges came almost immediately.
On Friday, the advocacy group Public Citizen filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, seeking to block Trump’s declaration on behalf of three Texas landowners and an environmental group.
“We just sued Trump over his fake national emergency,” the group stated. “If Trump gets away with this, there’s no telling what the next concocted ’emergency’ will be, who will be targeted and what emergency powers will be claimed.”
Another advocacy group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, sued the Department of Justice Friday for failing to provide documents – including legal opinions and communications – related to the president’s decision to declare a national emergency.
“Americans deserve to know the true basis for President Trump’s unprecedented decision to enact emergency powers to pay for a border wall,” the group’s executive director, Noah Bookbinder, said in a statement. “The Justice Department’s inadequate response raises major questions about whether even the president’s own administration believes there is a legal basis for him to bypass the constitutional authority granted to Congress to appropriate funds.”
On Saturday evening, the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, filed another lawsuit in federal court, saying the president has failed to identify a legal authority to take such an action, “and Congress has not enacted any emergency legislation even remotely related to border wall construction, and thus the president’s reallocation of funds is unlawful.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, said he planned to work with other states to take legal action against the White House. The American Civil Liberties Union said it was preparing a lawsuit for early next week, arguing that Trump cannot legally redirect taxpayer money during an “emergency” unless it’s for military construction projects that support the armed forces.
“The president’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.”
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Damian Paletta, Mike DeBonis, John Wagner, Amy B Wang, Missy Ryan