A coalition of 16 states filed a federal lawsuit Monday to block President Trump’s plan to build a border wall without permission from Congress, arguing that the president’s decision to declare a national emergency is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit, brought by states with Democratic governors – except for one, Maryland – seeks a preliminary injunction that would prevent the president from acting on his emergency declaration while the case plays out in the courts.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, a San Francisco-based court whose judges have ruled against an array of other Trump administration policies, including on immigration and the environment.
Accusing the president of “an unconstitutional and unlawful scheme,” the suit says the states are trying “to protect their residents, natural resources, and economic interests from President Donald J. Trump’s flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles engrained in the United States Constitution.”
The complaint, filed by the attorneys general of nearly a third of the states and representing tens millions of Americans, immediately became the heavyweight among a rapid outpouring of opposition to the president’s emergency declaration. In the White House Rose Garden on Friday, Trump announced that he was instituting a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border because Congress did not provide the money for a wall that has stood as one of the most enduring promises from his 2016 campaign.
Several nonprofit organizations already have gone to court or announced plans to sue. And protesters took to the streets in several cities Monday.
Through the president’s declared emergency, White House officials plan to use $8 billion to build sections of a barrier that Trump says will obstruct or deter migrants from crossing into the country.
That sum is about $6.6 billion more than Congress allotted for the purpose in its latest spending plan.
To fill in the gap, the White House intends, among other things, to divert $3.6 billion from military construction accounts and $2.5 billion from Department of Defense efforts to fight illicit drugs.
In the 56-page complaint, Becerra and his counterparts argue that diverting money that Congress has designated for other purposes violates the separation of powers defined in the Constitution.
In addition to California, the states participating in the suit are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia.