ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Trump Over ‘Emergency’ Declaration

The American Civil Liberties Union has joined the list of groups with lawsuits against the President's declaration of a "national emergency" at the southern border.

Joining California and fifteen other states, a group of Texas landowners, and environmental groups, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against President Trump regarding his declaration of a ‘national emergency’ at the southern border:

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to build his long-promised border wall and his ability to take taxpayer dollars from other budgets to pay for the construction.

“The president is using a bogus declaration of a nonexistent emergency to undermine our constitutional system of checks and balances,” Cecillia Wang, ACLU deputy legal director, said. “We’re filing suit to stop the administration from moving forward with this patently illegal attempt to steal taxpayer money for a border wall that Congress, security experts and Americans have said is unnecessary and harmful.”

The civil rights group filed the suit in federal court in the Northern District of California. The Sierra Club, a California-based environmental group, is the organization’s chief client in the lawsuit, along with residents and community organizations who live and work along the border.

This move comes after 16 states filed a similar lawsuit in the same court Monday challenging the president’s emergency declaration. That suit was led by California and also includes Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia.

The ACLU plans to argue that by issuing the emergency declaration to build the wall and use money from other federal agencies to build it, Trump is usurping the authority of Congress, which passed a bipartisan spending package last week that the president signed and that did not include funding for his proposed wall.

Trump said when announcing the emergency last week that he anticipated lawsuits, particularly in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from the Northern District of California and has frequently drawn his ire because of its rulings against several of the administration’s policies.

From The Hill:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Tuesday became the latest entity to sue the Trump administration over its move to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the U.S. southern border.

The civil rights organization in a statement announced it had filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition in the Northern District of California.

“The president is using a bogus declaration of a non-existent emergency to undermine our constitutional system of checks and balances, in the process deeply harming communities living and working at the border,” Cecillia Wang, ACLU’s deputy legal director, said in a statement.

“We’re filing suit to stop the administration from moving forward with this patently illegal attempt to steal taxpayer money for a border wall that Congress, security experts, and Americans have said is unnecessary and harmful.”

The ACLU had announced earlier in February that it planned to sue the administration. The lawsuit comes a day after 16 states filed a similar suit in an effort to block Trump from moving on his long-promised border wall.

In its legal filing, the ACLU argues that Trump’s use of an emergency declaration is an unconstitutional effort to evade Congress in order to access necessary funding for the border structure.

The groups also argue that the construction of the wall would harm wildlife and the environment and have a negative impact on communities along the border.

Trump declared the national emergency last week before signing a spending bill that would prevent another government shutdown. He has predicted that the lower courts will block the move.

“We will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we’ll get another bad ruling and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court,” Trump said.

As with the other three lawsuits, the ACLU’s suit, filed on behalf of the Sierra Club and other organizations, uses the President’s own words against him to undermine the argument that there is an actual emergency on the southern border. Chief among these, of course, is the admission he made during last Friday’s press conference where he announced the so-called “emergency” that he “didn’t need to do this” and that he just wanted things to move faster. This would not be the first time that the President’s own words have come back to haunt him in litigation, of course. We have also seen the same thing happen in the lawsuits over his Muslim Travel Ban and his ban on transgender troops in the military. The lawsuit also makes a number of other factual allegations meant to undercut the President’s assertion that there is a “national emergency” on the border of the type that would justify invocation of the powers conferred by the National Emergencies Act of 1976, although it’s unclear how willing a court will be to look behind the President’s reasons for declaring an emergency given the broad grant of authority that the act confers on him. The lawsuit goes on to allege that the President’s actions violate the principles of Separation of Powers in that it purports to allocate money in ways that Congress has not authorized, that it specifically violates the Constitution’s Appropriations Clause set forth in Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 which grants Congress the exclusive authority to appropriate money, that the declaration is outside the authority granted to the President by the Constitution or Federal Law, and that it violates several environmental laws passed by Congress in that it seeks to bypass normal environmental impact review processes that would have to be followed in the case of other Federal projects. As relief, the Complaint asks for an injunction blocking the emergency declaration and blocking any action aimed at building the wall.

As with the other lawsuits, we’ll have to wait to see how these matters, many of which have never been fully litigated before, are decided at the trial court and Circuit Court of Appeals levels. Eventually, they’ll likely make their way to the Supreme Court, but that won’t be until at least sometime in 2020 at the earliest. At that point, of course, the wall itself will become a moot point if Trump is not re-elected.

Here’s the Complaint:

Sierra Club Et Al v. Trump by on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Bob@Youngstown says:

    In case we’ve missed it:

    From the White-House:
    WHEREAS, I’m told that over a million babies are being slaughtered every day in our great country, and WHEREAS, I’m told by many people these babies would have grown to become fantastic generals and devoted republicans, and WHEREAS, aborting these dedicated patriots represents an NATIONAL EMERGENCY !!! that must be addressed before the 2020 Presidential Election.
    I am invoking the unbridled powers granted to me by the National Emergency Act and today ordering the US Army Corps of Engineers to immediately commence construction of a 60 foot concrete inpenetrable wall around any and all places where abortions are currently being performed or may be performed in the future.

    AND FURTHERMORE:
    WHEREAS, Alex Baldwin has ridiculed me on national television, and
    WHEREAS, NBC promotes and sponsors this ridicule of the me, your bestest President ever, and
    WHEREAS, this belittling of me, your best President ever, sows dissention and distrust among the citizens of this great country against your best President ever, and that dissention and distrust represents a NATIONAL EMERGENCY !!!
    I am invoking the unbridled powers granted to me (your bestest President ever) by the National Emergency Act and today ordering The FCC to immediately terminate that licensing of any and all television stations that have broadcast the subversive narratives of Alex Baldwin, or might be tempted to do so in the future.
    Signed: Your Commander (me)

  2. James Pearce says:

    Eventually, they’ll likely make their way to the Supreme Court, but that won’t be until at least sometime in 2020 at the earliest.

    Just what we need to be talking about in the 2020 election, Donald Trump’s Wall.

    Kill me now.

    2
    7
  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:

    Just what we need to be talking about in the 2020 election, Donald Trump’s Wall.

    Wait…I thought you said he won and got his wall?
    Why would we still be talking about it if he won and got his wall, like you said?
    WTF?

    11
    1
  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    With Justice Boof on the SCOTUS…there is a good chance Dennison will win this.
    But I have to say that anyone who considers themselves a Conservative, and backs this move by Dennison, needs to do some serious self-reflection.

    2
    1
  5. James Pearce says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Wait…I thought you said he won and got his wall?

    While this lawsuit works its way through the system, Trump still has to burn through the $1.375 billion that the Dems gave him for “border security.” Come 2020, regardless of the legal arguments being made, Trump is going to say “I told you it wasn’t gonna be enough,” which may end up being more persuasive than you think.

    1
    6
  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:

    which may end up being more persuasive than you think.

    To un-thinking sycophants, like you? I’m sure.

    4
    2
  7. James Pearce says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: To persuadable voters.

    2
    3
  8. Kathy says:

    What number will be higher? The lawsuits against Losing Donald for his naked power grab, or the number of candidates for the democratic presidential nomination?

  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:
    You aggrandize yourself.
    You are nothing but a pathetic rube, duped by a conman…and too weak to admit it to yourself.

    4
    2
  10. John430 says:

    Doug: I lifted this wholesale from a law blog which is copied from the NY Sun.
    Comments?
    In the constitutional confrontation over President Trump’s plan to use emergency powers to build a wall on our southern border, we’re keeping an eye out for the name of Jagdish Rai Chadha. He was the plaintiff in the case in which the Supreme Court read Congress the riot act for trying to interfere with a president’s emergency powers. The case echoes through the years.

    At the moment, the President is being opposed by Speaker Pelosi, Senator Schumer, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, and every other Tom, Dick, and Harriet in the Democratic Party. Sixteen states have already gone to court. They’re complaining about what they call Mr. Trump’s “flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles engrained in the United States Constitution.”

    This turns out to be exactly the principle with which the Justices clobbered Congress in INS v. Chadha. In that case, decided in 1983, the president used emergency powers to permit Mr. Chadha, a stateless person who had overstayed a student visa, to remain at America. The House of Representatives turned around and “vetoed” the suspension.

    When it got to the Supreme Court, the Justices would have none of it. Congress, the justices concluded, doesn’t get to veto what a president does. Feature the parchment. The veto, as a power, is granted in the Constitution to only the president. He gets to use it against Congress. Nowhere does it say that the Congress gets a veto against the President.

    When it comes to dealing with a president, the House can impeach the muskrat, the Senate can try him, Congress can refuse to appropriate money, it can declare war, it can grant a trademark. It can repeal a law. Veto, though, no. In the case of Mr. Chadha’s deportation, moreover, it was just the House of Representatives, acting alone, that tried to veto the president’s emergency action.

    This hangs out there today, when we have a Senate controlled by the GOP and the House by the Democrats. “One-house legislative vetoes are invalid because they should be considered an exercise of legislative power, which makes them subject to the bicameralism and presentment requirements in Article I of the Constitution,” is the way the Justia Web site summarizes the case.

    The business about presentment means that that if Congress were trying to legislate around a presidential emergency action, the president would get to sign off on it, just like any other act by Congress. This is one of the checks and balances to which everyone is always bowing and scraping. It looks like a problem Congress could face as she seeks to foil President Trump in respect of the Wall.

  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @John430:
    So in your mind there is an equivalency between the Executive granting immigration clemency, and the Executive asking Congress for money, the Congress refusing to appropriate that money, and the Executive in turn ignoring Congress and taking money that Congress has appropriated for other things? After the Executive has not vetoed Congresses appropriations bill but, in fact, signed Congresses appropriation bill???
    As I often say, you have to be a moron to still support this president.

  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    For an emergency that the president admits does not exist.

  13. James Pearce says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    You are nothing but a pathetic rube, duped by a conman…and too weak to admit it to yourself.

    I am not a persuadable voter*, but we’re two years out from when Trump flipped WI, PA, and OH so they’re out there. They probably can’t be persuaded by someone who thinks they’re “deplorable” though.

    * I’ll probably be voting for the same person you are.

  14. Kathy says:

    @John430:

    Comments?

    Yes. Copying an entire blog post elsewhere is a gross violation of copyright, not to mention norms of civilized behavior.

  15. Kathy says:

    From the “Objects in Mirror are Closer than they Appear” Department, Rumor has it the Mueller investigation is wrapping up, with a report due maybe as early as next week.

    Here’s the link to CNN.

    I advise tempering expectations. After all, there has been no indictment of El Cheeto¿s criminal spawn. It may also be the Mueller Report won’t finger Dennison for anything. Think back to the Iran-Contra affair, which produced several convictions (and pardons to match), without fingering Ronnie Reagan at all (and if you believe Reagan wasn’t involved, I’ve a bridge I’ve been meaning to sell)

  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:
    Apparently Barr has shut down the investigation.

  17. James Pearce says:

    @Kathy:

    I advise tempering expectations.

    I’ve been advising that for months.

  18. Mikey says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Apparently Barr has shut down the investigation.

    As he was appointed to do.

  19. Mikey says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Although keep in mind this may be coincidental, or it may not happen that soon at all. CNN is the only outlet reporting Mueller “wrapping up,” so they may be wrong/misinterpreting.

  20. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    It doesn’t read that way.

    The piece mentions other Federal investigations involving the Cheeto are still ongoing, too.

  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @John430: Wish you had provided a link, so that I could see who these people are. Lots of stuff presents itself as things it’s not on the innertubes. There’s a guy out there who is a teacher of classic literature and languages who’s portraying himself as a historian and political scientist, for example.

  22. An Interested Party says:

    Comments?

    Sure! You and that argument are both full of shit…next question…

  23. gVOR08 says:

    Where does one file these suits, and do they have a ‘take a number’ machine?