The attorneys general of 16 states filed a lawsuit Monday over the national emergency President Trump declared last week.
The national emergency was declared Friday after Trump signed a spending deal that includes nearly $1 billion for enhanced medial care and transportation for illegal immigrants, but offers just $1.4 billion for the construction of 55 miles of “barrier.”
The figure falls far short of the $5.7 billion Trump had originally proposed.
The spending deal also blocks Trump from using allocated funds to build the wall. By declaring a national emergency over the “invasion” at the border, he hopes to redirect $8 billion without Congressional approval.
While previous presidents have signed dozens of emergency declarations, none have been related to proposals Congress declined to fund. (However, more than 30 emergency orders are still in effect, some decades old.)
“This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed President, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process,” argues House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who during the shutdown refused to consider border wall funding even in exchange for DACA and TPS guarantees.
States involved in the lawsuit (and their governors) are:
- California (Gavin Newsom)
- Maine (Janet Mills)
- New York (Andrew Cuomo)
- Delaware (John Carney)
- Hawaii (David Ige)
- Oregon (Kate Brown)
- Colorado (Jared Polis)
- Illinois (Jay Robert Pritzker)
- Connecticut (Ned Lamont)
- Michigan (Gretchen Whitmer)
- Maryland (Larry Hogan)
- Virginia (Ralph Northam)
- Minnesota (Tim Walz)
- Nevada (Steve Sisolak)
- New Jersey (Phil Murphy)
- New Mexico (Michelle Lujan Grisham)
All 16 states have Democratic AGs, and all but Maryland have Democratic governors.
The lawsuit, led by California AG Xavier Becerra, insists Trump’s actions represent a “flagrant disregard for the separation of powers” and specifically aims to block him from obtaining wall funds without Congressional approval.
The lawsuit also demands Trump consider the potential environmental effects of the wall before starting construction.
“Declaring a national emergency when one does not exist is immoral and illegal,” says New York AG Letitia James. “Diverting necessary funds from real emergencies, crime-fighting activities, and military construction projects usurps Congressional power and will hurt Americans across the country. We will not stand for this abuse of power and will fight using every tool at our disposal.”
Becerra insists the states have the right to challenge Trump on the declaration because some of the money he is trying to use for the border wall would have gone to states’ defense budgets.
“If the president is essentially stealing money that’s been allocated to go to the various states for various purposes but no longer will, we’re being harmed, our people are being harmed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Alaska’s Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy has offered his state’s National Guard to patrol the border.
Author’s Note: The lawsuit is partisan and completely expected and almost guaranteed to succeed in the notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit Court, where it will first be tried.
Like other Trump proposals defeated by liberal courts, the issue will likely go to the Supreme Court, whose conservative majority will support Trump. The legal fight is expected to continue into the 2020 election.
Editor’s note: Famed attorney Alan Derschowitz has said ” I think emergencies are things that happened suddenly” as his reason why Trump acted improperly. But given that many emergency declarations currently in effect have been in effect for decades (giving Congress ample time to put laws into effect), one can safely say that this has not been a requirement in the past.