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Trump emergency declaration faces fights in the courts

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    President Donald Trump gestures to the audience as he heads to the Oval Office after speaking during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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    California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, right, accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, said California will probably sue President Donald Trump over his emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. Becerra says there is no emergency at the border and Trump doesn’t have the authority to make the declaration. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Published February 16. 2019 11:09AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Let the lawsuits begin.

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency along the southern border and predicted his administration would end up defending it all the way to the Supreme Court.

That might have been the only thing Trump said Friday that produced near-universal agreement.

The American Civil Liberties Union announced its intention to sue less than an hour after the White House released the text of Trump’s declaration that the “current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency.”

Nonprofit watchdog group Public Citizen filed suit later, urging the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to “bar Trump and the U.S. Department of Defense from using the declaration and funds appropriated for other purposes to build a border wall.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several Democratic state attorneys general already have said they might go to court.

The coming legal fight seems likely to hinge on two main issues: Can the president declare a national emergency to build a border wall in the face of Congress’ refusal to give him all the money he wanted and, under the federal law Trump invoked in his declaration, can the Defense Department take money from some congressionally approved military construction projects to pay for wall construction?

The Pentagon has so far not said which projects might be affected.

But after weeks of publicly ruminating whether to act, Trump’s signature on the declaration set in motion a quick march to the courthouse.

Trump relied on the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which Congress adopted as a way to put some limits on presidential use of national emergencies. The act requires a president to notify Congress publicly of the national emergency and to report every six months. The law also says the president must renew the emergency every year, simply by notifying Congress. The House and Senate also can revoke a declaration by majority vote, though it would take a two-thirds vote by each house to override an expected presidential veto.

Beyond that, though, the law doesn’t say what constitutes a national emergency or impose any other limits on the president.

The broad grant of discretion to the president could make it hard to persuade courts to rule that Trump exceeded his authority in declaring a border emergency. “He’s the one who gets to make the call. We can’t second-guess it,” said John Eastman, a professor of constitutional law at the Chapman University School of Law.

Courts often are reluctant to look beyond the justifications the president included in his proclamation, Ohio State University law professor Peter Shane said on a call organized by the liberal American Constitution Society.

But other legal experts said the facts are powerfully arrayed against the president. They include government statistics showing a decades-long decline in illegal border crossings as well as Trump’s rejection of a deal last year that would have provided more than the nearly $1.4 billion he got for border security in the budget agreement he signed Thursday. Opponents of the declaration also are certain to use Trump’s own words at his Rose Garden news conference Friday to argue that there is no emergency on the border.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time,” Trump said. “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”

Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan said Congress made a conscious choice not to give Trump what he wanted. “A prerequisite for declaring an emergency is that the situation requires immediate action and Congress does not have an opportunity to act,” Amash said on Twitter.

ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said Trump’s remarks are an admission that there is no national emergency. “He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress,” Romero said in a statement that also said the rights group would file a lawsuit next week.

Trying to turn the president’s words against him failed in the challenge to Trump’s ban on travel to the United States by citizens of several mostly Muslim countries. The ban’s opponents argued that Trump’s comments as a candidate and as president showed the ban was motivated by anti-Muslim bias, not concern about national security. Lower courts struck down the ban, but the Supreme Court upheld it in a 5-4 vote last year.

Trump said he expected to lose in lower courts that he claims have been unfair to him, particularly if lawsuits are filed in California. “Hopefully, we’ll get a fair shake and we’ll win in the Supreme Court, just like the ban,” he said.

Beyond the challenge to Trump’s authority to declare an emergency, lawsuits also are expected to focus on the military construction project law that allows the re-allocation of money in a national emergency.

Eastman said he doubts that the Supreme Court would try to interfere with Trump’s decision to send the military to the border and then authorize the use of money from other Defense Department construction projects to build miles of a border wall. “The president is authorized to make those judgments, not some judge in San Francisco,” Eastman said.

But the ACLU’s suit will argue that Congress allowed for flexibility in using money it appropriated for projects needed to support the emergency use of the military forces, like overseas military airfields in wartime.

Several legal experts said claims that the building of the wall is not the kind of project contemplated in the military construction law could be more difficult to rebut because border security is more like a law enforcement issue than a military emergency.

But Shane, the Ohio State professor, said, “It’s hard to know how exactly this is going to unfold politically or judicially.”

Why? What's wrong with securing the boarder? Could someone explain why protecting the Nation is a bad idea? Please use grown up words if you can.
Look what they just hauled across the Rio Grande those nasty Mexicans.
Authorities seized the tractor/trailer along with 906 pounds of methamphetamine (411 kg) that was worth about $12,700,000, CBP said.
"This was an outstanding interception our officers accomplished this weekend," said Port Director David Gonzalez of Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry.
Biggest mistake in history. The Idiot in Chief just opened a door that can never be closed. Anything now constitutes an emergency. A Nasty & stupid precedent to set "I didn't have to do it". Right up there with "Mission Accomplished" The flush heard 'round the world. We're all screwed now. One spoiled rich brat's tantrum has just turned the Constitution into toilet paper.
You people fight against National Security in the name of what? Diversity? So let them all flow in, and don't worry about them bringing along cultural differences to ours. Here's a breaking story from Boise Idaho... Nineteen-year-old Elias Lupango, 18-year-old Rashidi Mulanga and 18-year-old Swedi Iyombelo, all of Boise, were charged with gang raping a sixteen year old girl. Prosecutors say the three men are from Tanzania.
How many more must die from heroin? Trump's single NE sets no more precedence, than what Obama's 13 did. Wake up you ignorant people. Stop the senseless resistance. Why do you resist? Tell me.
I must have hit a cord with the term "Bimbo".
Tanzania is where the three illegal immigrants who raped the 16 year old girl, come from.
Why don't you reply with relevance? Are you on something?
TG, come on now. The criminals were living in Tanzania. They came to Mexico because they knew they could come through open borders into America. America borders Mexico. How about that “ding dong”? We are going to begin a 2yr investigation to see whether you really have a diploma. Whereas: 1) Tamaqua is a good school district. 2) you present inadequately in common subjects : English (multiple grammar/spelling/composition), History (Hitler=Trump), Manners (rude, punk like)
Special counsel will be appointed to determine whether you have fraudulent credentials. You colluded with a school marm to get unearned educational documents. This is absurd. This is what Dems are doing to the president now. Good Luck to you! Maybe next time you can follow a simple story-line. Put away the sauce. Bye Bye!
The “idiot in chief”, you say. Who are you? Every country has the right to protect it’s border. You have walls around your house, right? You lock your doors, so intruders cannot come in. For many years this “illegal immigration” has been going on. Thank God that a great President is going to fix this. There are multiple reasons. Americans are getting killed. Drugs are smuggled through, people are trafficked through, terrorists may come through. You may not care , but, I do. America has a very generous immigration policy. There is a National Crisis. Are you going to foot the bill? Next, you use disparaging remarks about President Trump. I never insulted President Obama (or anyone else). You should be more respectful. Are you aware that 58 National Emergencies have been activated. 31 are still active (going for several years- continuation clause). 13 were activated by President Obama. Many actually have nothing to do with America directly. Did that bother you? “One spoiled rich...
that is insulting. Next time you drive by a cemetery, stop and look at all of the American flags. You owe those warriors the honor of their service for the greatest country in the world respect for the President of the United States. You owe yourself, your family, your country, and your God respect. If your grand-father or father heard your talk they would spank that skinny little a**. Have more respect for others if you ever want any in return. You should be ashamed of yourself. It is one thing to have differing opinions. That is social discourse. Do not stoop to insult opposing view points - it makes you really look bad. Clean up your act.
I'm here to state facts. Not to argue with fools. When a Democrat President uses "Emergency" to ram his agenda through, you'll be among the first to call for impeachment. You are apparently a hater of the 1st amendment. Consider not replying or be reported for harrassment.
Did you ever look up the history of past NE's? How about the Kid from Kenya's 278 Executive Orders? Hey since we're discussing abuse of power, how about Lois Lerner and IRS bullying of the TEA Party? How about the FISA warrants? And you fear a wall? Are you kidding? Give me a break!
You are the hater. I am pointing out the hypocrisy of your statements. You are a low intellect cyber-bully. Make your family proud of what you post. I defended the 1st Ammendment more than you will ever know. I am always going to stand up for the greatest country in the world. It is one thing if you state legitimate points. It is entirely another when you are insulting. Don’t ever make the mistake of threatening me. How do you even know my opinion on “the first to call ...impeachment? State your point. You look really bad when...”you argue with fools”...right. You are on full display! You can dish it out, but, you can’t take it. What is wrong? State some facts (without being rude), then arrange some flowers. You will feel so much better. Maybe you can avoid your next melt-down!
And go tell the TN administrator that I disagree with your position. You tell them that I hold you to a higher standard when you don’t have any standard of respect at all. You tell them that you use desparaging language against people you don’t like, or even know. Sounds like it is you who should be locked up. We need lions on here, not pussycats.
These Democrats keep shooting themselves in the foot. That's why they want gun control. I'm pleased to see that my instinct on Smollett was correct. I knew things didn't add up on the attack story. Nancy Pelosi wasn't so fortunate, as she knee jerk tweeted (Jan. 29) that the “racist, homophobic attack” against Smollett is “an affront to our humanity.” It was a staged lie by a sexual deviant. Pelosi deleted her tweet last night. President wanna-be, Booker, referred to the incident as “an attempted modern day lynching.” Fools and their folly. For a Democrat, the end justifies the means, no matter who gets stomped on. In this case it was a hate crime against self.
By the way, filing a false police report is a serious offense punishable under both federal and state laws. I'm curious to see if he'll be held accountable for his actions?
Hi RUK. Hug your emotional support bunny rabbit. Now try and concentrate.
“You can keep your Doctor, if you want”
“The attack was caused by a video”
I could put down many more, but, you wouldn’t have the attention span. Congratulations on your first post without grammar or spelling errors. You even capitalized the “A” in America (we vets love that)- thanks. The USA is the greatest country in the world. MAGA! Thanks for activating spell checker! Welcome back pussycat.

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