- Trump reappropriated Pentagon funding for the construction of the border wall.
- In a recent decision the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the President could not use this money for the construction of the wall.
- The White House said they will appeal the decision.
When President Trump declared a national emergency in November in order to secure funding for the border wall, he predicted a fierce legal battle would ensue, and he was right. In November the president ended a 35 day government shutdown in exchange for $1.4 billion for a physical barrier along the southern border, which was far less than he originally wanted.
By declaring a national emergency the president was able to reappropriate funds for the construction of the wall. $8.1 billion was eventually siphoned from multiple agencies, including $3.6 billion from military construction funds, $2.5 billion from Defense Department counterdrug activities, and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund.
On Wednesday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration could not use the $2.5 billion taken from Defense Department counterdrug activities to build the southern border wall. After the ruling the White House said they would make an immediate appeal. It’s likely that the case will be heard by the Supreme Court.
The lawsuit against the Trump administration was brought forth by the ACLU on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition. The ACLU’s lawsuit came after a failed lawsuit by House Democrats. Washington D.C. district court Judge Trevor McFadden threw out the Democrats’ case, saying that it was fundamentally a political dispute and that the Democrats don’t have the standing to make a case.
The ACLU lawyer issued a statement saying “Congress and now two courts have said no to border wall funds. For the sake of our democracy and border communities, it’s time the president came to terms with the fact that America rejected his xenophobic wall — and move on.” The lawyer, like many politicians, has made race a central issue of the border wall dispute. The White House’s major argument for the necessity of the border wall focused on the drugs that are being transported across the border.
The judges ruled that the president may have violated the appropriations clause of the Constitution which reads, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by Law.”
The wall was a major promise of Trump’s 2016 campaign, and will likely play a major role in his 2020 campaign. At his rallies, the president is already enthusing his supporters by celebrating the current progress with the wall, and a decisive legal win for the wall would be a significant boost for his campaign.