A coalition of 16 states filed suit on President’s Day to block Trump’s plan to build a border wall without Congressional authorization, seeking to enjoin him from seizing funds under the guise of a “national emergency,” which they argue is unconstitutional.
Brought by a group of Democratic governors — plus the Republican governor of Maryland — the filing asks the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to issue a preliminary injunction against the president that would bar him \ from acting on his emergency declaration before the case is decided.
Trump is already facing at least two lawsuits over his unnecessary wall, and there are more on the way.
Even before he officially declared a national emergency in an unhinged rant, it was clear that there were going to be lawsuits. Yes, plural.
And it isn’t like he didn’t know he’d get sued. He said so Friday, when he announced the emergency. He also said that he “didn’t need to do this,” a statement that somewhat undercut his assertion there was an emergency.
Now, there are two lawsuits and the promise of at least one more, and that doesn’t include the fact that the House Judiciary Committee has already said they are going to investigate as well.
The first two lawsuits came from public interest groups. On Friday — the same day the “emergency” was announced — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued the Department of Justice (DOJ). Their lawsuit alleges that the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) didn’t provide any documents that explain the legal authority Trump has to make the national emergency declaration.
CREW had requested those documents from DOJ back in early January and also requested an expedited review given that everyone has a significant interest in knowing, sooner rather than later, the underlying legal basis for Trump declaring a national emergency. The OLC denied expedited review and told CREW that they wouldn’t even make the normal deadline of 20 working days. So, CREW sued to get those documents.
The American people shouldn’t be in the dark about a matter as important as this. CREW’s lawsuit seeks to shed some light by asking the court to order the DOJ to provide those documents, including legal opinions, immediately.
Friday’s other lawsuit was filed by Public Citizen on behalf of Texas landowners and an environmental group. The landowners are people who have been informed that the wall will be built on their property.
Taking their property to build the wall is theoretically permissible under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which allows the government to exercise eminent domain and take private property for public use. However, conservatives are generally virulently opposed to such a thing.
Trump likes the idea just fine though.
Public Citizen’s lawsuit isn’t just about the taking of land. It also challenges the idea that there is a national emergency at all. Migration at the southern border is not an unforeseen emergency, for example. And most important of all: “[A] disagreement between the President and Congress about how to spend money does not constitute an emergency authorizing unilateral executive action.”
And there’s another lawsuit getting teed up. California announced on Friday that they’re planning on suing. It looks like several other states — including Hawaii, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Oregon — will join the suit.
Trump may be confident that he’ll find a sympathetic ear at the Supreme Court that he’s already stacked with two extremely conservative judges, Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. With Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, there are, regrettably, five votes to back Trump’s most absurd and vicious impulses. That’s exactly what they did in the travel ban case.
Here’s hoping that Chief Justice John Roberts’ desire to maintain the independence of the judicial branch comes through and Trump eventually gets told he can’t use a national emergency to get his pointless wall.
Published with permission of The American Independent.