Washington, D.C., district court Judge Trevor McFadden threw out House Democrats’ lawsuit seeking an injunction against President Trump’s emergency border wall funding reallocation, saying that the matter is fundamentally a political dispute and that the politicians lack standing to make a legal case.
Trump had declared a national emergency this past February over the humanitarian crisis at the southern border, following Congress’ failure to fund his border wall legislatively. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats then filed suit in April, claiming that Trump was “stealing from appropriated funds” by moving $6.7 billion from other projects toward border wall construction. Democrats argued that the White House had “flouted the fundamental separation-of-powers principles and usurped for itself legislative power specifically vested by the Constitution in Congress.” McFadden’s ruling however was quite the opposite, suggesting instead that Democrats were the ones trying to circumvent the political process. Democrats cheating the system? Who would have thought…
“This case presents a close question about the appropriate role of the Judiciary in resolving disputes between the other two branches of the Federal Government. To be clear, the court does not imply that Congress may never sue the Executive to protect its powers,” McFadden wrote in his opinion. “The Court declines to take sides in this fight between the House and the President.” McFadden’s ruling was a stark contrast from that of U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam’s injunction last week, through which the Obama appointed judge, fueled by an anti-Trump bias, blocked the use of the reallocated emergency funds towards projects in specific areas of Texas and Arizona.
The Trump administration had history on their side in this battle, citing a specific example in their briefing of a time when Congress was concerned about “unauthorized Executive Branch spending in the aftermath of World War I, it responded not by threatening litigation, but by creating the General Accounting Office.” The judge cited that argument approvingly in his opinion, calling it “persuasive.” Examples of hotly debated political questions being resolved without involving the courts, McFadden continued, “abound” throughout history.
For example, McFadden wrote, in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt “fired an official from his Senate-confirmed position at the Federal Trade Commission. …The President removed the official without providing a reason. … The Senate likely had a ‘strong claim of diminution of’ its Advice and Consent power. … Yet the Senate made no effort to challenge this action in court.”
“Congress has several political arrows in its quiver to counter perceived threats to its sphere of power,” McFadden wrote. “These tools show that this lawsuit is not a last resort for the House. And this fact is also exemplified by the many other cases across the country challenging the administration’s planned construction of the border wall.”
McFadden continued: “The House retains the institutional tools necessary to remedy any harm caused to this power by the Administration’s actions. Its Members can, with a two-thirds majority, override the President’s veto of the resolution voiding the National Emergency Declaration. They did not. It can amend appropriations laws to expressly restrict the transfer or spending of funds for a border wall under Sections 284 and 2808. Indeed, it appears to be doing so.” McFadden then quoted former Chief Justice John Marshall’s opinion in the seminal 1803 case Marbury v. Madison, in which Marshall wrote, the “province of the [C[ourt is, solely, to decide on the rights of individuals, not to enquire how the executive, or executive officers, perform duties in which they have a discretion.”
McFadden also wrote, quoting from another Supreme Court case, “Intervening in a contest between the House and President over the border wall would entangle the Court ‘in a power contest nearly at the height of its political tension’ and would ‘risk damaging the public confidence that is vital to the functioning of the Judicial Branch.'”
President Trump’s partial government shutdown led to an approval of $1.375 billion for a 55 mile stretch of wall along the border. Democrats, however, intentionally approved only this number knowing it was insufficient and would leave most of the border still exposed. Trump had formally requested an additional $8.6 billion from Congress to build more than 700 miles of border wall. The emergency-appropriated funding alone could be used to build more than 230 miles of barriers. Which would play a huge role in making our nation safer, something Democrats apparently don’t want.