Donald Trump has been slapped down in court again. In separate rulings, two U.S. District Court judges ruled that diverting money from the military to build his wall under the guise of a “national emergency” is illegal.
“The courts today have made the right decision by flatly rejecting the president’s attempt to divert critical military spending for his unnecessary border wall,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“This manufactured national emergency and the illegal maneuvers employed to pay for it have been blocked. The president’s abuse of power will not stand because no one is above the law,” she added.
James was one of 15 state attorneys general who sued the Trump administration to block some $1.6 billion from being diverted from military construction projects. Earmarked in that amount is $160 million for project at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
“The president’s emergency proclamation was a blatant attempt to grab power from Congress,” Kristy Parker, a lawyer for Protect Democracy, told ABC News. “This is a huge win for democracy and the rule of law.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
The complaint alleged that the Trump Administration’s emergency declaration and diversion of funds appropriated by Congress is unconstitutional and otherwise unlawful.
“Declaring a National Emergency when one does not exist is immoral and illegal,” James said.
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.
In a separate case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam ruled against the administration.
“[The] border barrier projects [the Trump administration] now assert are ‘necessary to support the use of the armed forces’ are the very same projects [the administration] sought — and failed — to build under [Homeland Security’s] civilian authority, because Congress would not appropriate the requested funds,” Gilliam wrote.
The White House intends to appeal the rulings, press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
The cases could end up before the Supreme Court, where a Trump installed conservative majority ruled in the administration’s favor on a related issue last year.
The court approved administration plans to spend $2.5 billion for the border wall that had been earmarked for military counter-drug programs.
The court orders block funding planned for as much as 175 miles for an “emergency border wall system” in Texas, Arizona and California — disrupting the administration’s plans to complete 450 miles of new barriers by the end of 2020, according to The Washington Post.
The administration has built just over 86 miles of new barriers, but most of that work has been replacing existing barriers.