The Donald Trump national emergency to fund his border wall is setting the stage for a key constitutional test of presidential power.
Sixteen states called Trump’s action a “fabricated emergency and unlawful diversion of congressionally appropriated funding to pay for his border wall” in a lawsuit filed Monday (Feb. 18).
“Declaring a National Emergency when one does not exist is immoral and illegal,” said one of the plaintiffs, New York Attorney General Letitia James, in a statement.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also issued a statement saying it would also sue the over the Donald Trump national emergency, calling it a power grab.
The state’s complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
The complaint alleges that the Donald Trump national emergency declaration and diversion of funds is unconstitutional and otherwise unlawful.
The states have asked the court to block the emergency declaration, the unauthorized construction of the border wall and any “illegal diversion of congressionally-appropriated funds.”
“Diverting necessary funds from real emergencies, crime-fighting activities and military construction projects usurps congressional power and will hurt Americans across the country,” the statement continued.
The state Attorneys General branded the action an “abuse of power.”
President Trump’s hyped crisis is a pretext to justify redirecting congressionally-appropriated funds to pay to build a wall along the southern border after he failed to get Congress — or Mexico — to pay for it, the lawsuit charges.
According to the suit, the facts weigh heavily against Trump, although that hasn’t stopped the president from making up his own claims without proof.
Unlawful southern border entries are at their lowest point in twenty-years; immigrants are less likely than native-born citizens to commit crimes and illegal drugs are more likely to come through official ports of entry, the suit notes.
“There is no credible evidence to suggest that a border wall would decrease crime rates.”
Trump predicted the lawsuit in a rambling news conference. He laid out a scenario in a sing-song voice, noting that the suit would likely be filed in California’s 9th Circuit federal court.
It was. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, based in San Francisco, is noted for reversing Trump’s policies on such issues as immigration.
Trump also predicted that the case would end up in the U.S. Supreme Court where he predicted victory. The court currently has a conservative five-member majority, including Trump’s latest appointment, Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh’s stunning testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee not only revealed his arrogance, imperiousness and lack of judicial temperament, but also was so riddled with lies he might have been disqualified from serving on Court under different circumstances.
His appointment was confirmed by the Republican controlled Senate on a straight party-line vote. Kavanaugh has a history of supporting conservative legal causes.
But a strict conservative vote on the court is far from guaranteed.
In a ruling last week, the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that would have severely restricted the availability of abortion services to state residents.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who normally aligns with the conservative majority, sided with the court’s four liberal justices. It was a stunning rebuke of conservative groups that have been counting on the court to overturn the landmark 1972 case Roe v Wade. It made abortion legal nationwide.
Trump vowed during the 2016 election that he would appoint anti-abortion judges to the high court. Kavanaugh is staunchly anti-abortion.
Trump’s national emergency declaration is likely to set up a key test of president’s right to usurp the powers of Congress. The legislative body is empowered by the Constitution to control the government’s purse strings.
Congress rejected Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion, leading to the longest government shutdown in the nation’s history. Trump reluctantly signed a funding bill Friday, appropriating only $1.4 billion. He followed up by declaring a national emergency.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was the first group to declare it would challenge the action in court.
“By the president’s very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency. He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall ‘faster,’” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero in a statement.
On Capitol Hill, Democrats also sharply opposed the Donald Trump national emergency.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said in a joint statement, “the President’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution.” .
The states, however, appear to be the first to file in court “to protect their residents, natural resources, and economic interests from President Donald J. Trump’s flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles ingrained in the United States Constitution.”
Joining Attorney General James in filing the lawsuit are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Virginia.
Democratic governors are sitting in all of the states, except Maryland. It’s headed by a moderate Republican.
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