Federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was once criticized by President Trump, ruled in the White House’s favor by rejecting a challenge on environmental grounds to the Southern border wall.
A federal judge rejected a challenge to the Trump administration’s plans to build a wall on the Southern border with Mexico, NPR reports. The state of California and environmental groups sued, arguing that it was wrong to launch the border wall project by waiving several federal environmental laws. U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruled that the administration has not violated those laws, in essence giving the project a green light. Curiel is the same jurist who oversaw a separate lawsuit against Trump University. As a candidate, President Trump accused Curiel of bias because the Indiana-born judge is of Mexican ancestry. Trump called Curiel a “hater.”
The judge said his decision “cannot and does not consider whether the underlying decisions to construct the border barriers are politically wise or prudent.” He added, “As fellow Indiana native Chief Justice Roberts observed in addressing a case surrounded by political disagreement: ‘Court[s] are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments.” Curiel disagreed with the administration’s challengers who had argued that the government improperly waived environmental laws to begin construction of border wall prototypes and replacements for existing border fencing. The Center for Biological Diversity filed the first challenge against the administration. The group’s Brian Segee said, “We intend to appeal this disappointing ruling, which would allow Trump to shrug off crucial environmental laws that protect people and wildlife. The Trump administration has completely overreached its authority in its rush to build this destructive, senseless wall.”