Constitutional Law

Judiciary has no jurisdiction to decide Congress' suit over border wall funds, federal judge rules

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border wall

The international border wall between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico. Photo by Sherry V. Smith/

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ruled that he has no jurisdiction to enter the fight between President Donald Trump and the U.S. House of Representatives over the use of unappropriated funds to build a border wall.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden ruled Monday, report Politico, the Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, the Associated Press, and the New York Times.

“This is a case about whether one chamber of Congress has the ‘constitutional means’ to conscript the judiciary in a political turf war with the president over the implementation of legislation,” McFadden wrote.

“While the Constitution bestows upon members of the House many powers, it does not grant them standing to hale the executive branch into court claiming a dilution of Congress’ legislative authority. The court therefore lacks jurisdiction to hear the House’s claims,” McFadden said.

Trump declared a national emergency in February to divert about $6.7 billion for the wall, mostly from funds slated for the military. His plan was to combine diverted money with $1.375 billion appropriated by Congress to build the wall.

The House’s suit had argued that Trump violated the appropriations clause, which states: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”

If other courts accept McFadden’s reasoning, the New York Times reports, “the House’s litigation options will narrow as it battles the president on several fronts.”

McFadden noted that other plaintiffs have filed suits challenging Trump’s emergency use of funds, and the House could file amicus briefs in those suits. In one suit filed by the Sierra Club, a federal judge in California granted a partial injunction last month that barred use of drug-fighting funds for parts of the wall.

Congress did vote to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration, but the vote did not survive a veto.

See also: “Can Trump legally use emergency powers to build a border wall? Experts weigh in”

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