ACLU, Sierra Club file lawsuit over Trump border wall emergency declaration
Nearly every legal argument has already been made and now nearly every major player has joined in, after the ACLU and the Sierra Club filed their own lawsuit late Tuesday challenging President Trump’s border wall emergency.
The groups filed in federal court in the Northern District of California, turning to one of the most liberal-leaning courts, whose judges have not been shy about resisting Mr. Trump’s immigration policies in the past.
“The president is using a bogus declaration of a non-existent emergency to undermine our constitutional system of checks and balances, in the process deeply harming communities living and working at the border,” said Cecillia Wang, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union.
Their lawsuit tracks the others already filed one by 16 Democrat-led states, also in the Northern District of California, and two by environmental groups and Texas landowners, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.
The lawsuits argue Mr. Trump is overstepping his constitutional boundaries by redirecting money Congress earmarked to go toward non-wall activities, and the lawsuits challenge the president’s claims that there’s a border emergency.
Exhibit No. 1 for the ACLU-Sierra Club lawsuit is the president’s own words last week, when he said “I don’t need to do this,” saying he could wait for Congress to approve the money more slowly, but he didn’t want to wait.
The ACLU and Sierra Club also say Mr. Trump is violating environmental law if he constructs fencing without conducting assessments to consider the harm to ecosystems and wildlife.
The ACLU’s lawsuit does disagree with California’s lawsuit on at least one point. Where California argued Congress specifically ruled out any use of money for a “border wall,” the ACLU says Congress did approve $1.375 billion short of the $8 billion Mr. Trump wanted.
It appears the disagreement is one of semantics and determining what qualifies as a wall, versus a fence. At this point the Trump administration says the standard border fence design that’s been used over the last decade, including the first two years of the Trump administration, is border wall.
Mr. Trump has said he expects to lose some early rounds in the legal battle, particularly in federal courts on the West Coast, such as the very Northern District of California where the ACLU and the state of California filed their challenges.
But Mr. Trump says he expects to win at the Supreme Court.
The spate of lawsuits is reminiscent of the myriad challenges filed in the days after Mr. Trump announced his travel ban policy in early 2017.
Many of those who challenged that policy are back in court now though they’re hoping for a better outcome, after the Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of Mr. Trump’s final travel ban framework.