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