Immigrant rights advocates, property rights activists, environmentalists, Democratic lawmakers and state officials are signaling plans for lawsuits to block the president from what they call an unconstitutional end-run around the usual budget process.
President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to access funds Congress refused to appropriate for his border wall will unleash a legal war that could bog down the project for months or years, Politico reports. Immigrant rights advocates, property rights activists, environmentalists, Democratic lawmakers and state officials are signaling plans for lawsuits to block the president from what they have denounced as an unconstitutional end-run around the usual budget process. Judges sometimes have blocked spending seen as unauthorized by Congress, but it has been almost unthinkable for judges to second-guess a president’s declaration of a military or national security emergency.
Legal experts said Trump’s history of erratic statements and his tendency to see crises that others view as contrived mean that challengers stand a strong chance of finding a judge willing to throw a monkey wrench into the president’s plans. “Presidents traditionally get tremendous deference, but Trump is not going to get the same level of deference,” said University of Texas law Prof. Bobby Chesney. When U.S. intelligence chiefs testified in the Senate last month about global threats, there was only brief discussion of migration and no mention of a crisis related to caravans at the southern border. “That really strips away the core rationale …. and creates much more chance than normal that even at that initial step there’s a non-negligible chance that [Trump’s plan] could be rejected,” Chesney said. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has filed dozens of suits against Trump policy moves, said, “There is no national emergency … we will do what we must to hold him accountable. No one is above the law.” Trump is expected to rely on the National Emergencies Act of 1976. Then administration officials will tap into various accounts that can be freed up by such a declaration.