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President Donald Trump’s attempts to fund his much-touted border wall were thwarted, at least partially, by a Friday evening ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam in Sierra Club v. Trump, Politico reported.
The Sierra Club took Trump to court after he declared a national emergency and tried to reallocate $8.1 billion in defense funding to pay for the wall. But, the judge said, the president’s emergency powers only allow that kind of transfer of funds for “unforeseen military requirements” and blocked a $1 billion transfer of funds from the Pentagon’s counterdrug efforts.
The judge dedicated pages of his ruling to quoting Trump talking about the need for a wall along the border long before Trump tried to shift the funds, which undermines Trump’s legal justification that hinges on the need for this funding being “unforeseen.” So, it was Trump’s constant drumbeat of yelling about the need for a wall during his campaign and the first two years of his administration rendered the transfer unconstitutional.
“Defendants’ argument that the need for the requested border barrier construction funding was ‘unforeseen’ cannot logically be squared with the Administration’s multiple requests for funding for exactly that purpose dating back to at least early 2018,” Gilliam wrote.
Trump’s legal team also argued that the president can move funds without Congress when the legislative branch doesn’t give him as much as he requested, but Gilliam also shot that argument down.
“The position that when Congress declines the Executive’s request to appropriate funds, the Executive nonetheless may simply find a way to spend those funds ‘without Congress’ does not square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic,” the judge wrote.
Furthermore, Gilliam said, the type of funds Trump is trying to transfer can only be used for “military construction projects,” and the wall does not qualify as such.
However, this will not be the final ruling on this case, and it only partially blocks wall funding for certain areas along the border in Texas and Arizona. It will likely end up, like Trump’s Travel Ban, in the Supreme Court.