·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

Judge Dismisses House Democrats’ Suit Against Border Wall as Progressives Prepare Appeal

— June 17, 2019

Democrats themselves asked for the dismissal after the presiding judge found Congress lacks standing to challenge the president’s emergency order.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought against President Donald Trump’s declaration of emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The complaint, reports The Hill, was filed by House Democrats. But it’s dismissal was also brokered by Democrats, who themselves asked the judge to discard the case.

Keeping the suit alive may have been an uphill battle anyway—Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, had already ruled against Democrats. McFadden, earlier, suggested that Congress lacks the standing to go to court to block the president’s decision to divert military funds to the so-called border crisis.

Now, Democrats intend to appeal McFadden’s finding.

“The House respectfully disagrees with the court’s standing decision, but the parties are in agreement that there is no need for any further proceedings or briefing in this case and the court should immediately dismiss the amended complaint for lack of jurisdiction and enter final judgment so that the House may promptly appeal the order,” wrote attorneys for the House and Trump administration in a joint court filing last week.

McFadden was purportedly quick to oblige, tossing the complaint for “lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”

The lawsuit, notes The Hill, was filed by the House earlier this year. Democrats—along with some of their conservative colleagues—have questioned whether President Trump can reallocate funds already appropriated by Congress.

Over 100 former congresspeople also signed an amicus brief, which states, “Rarely in our Nation’s history has the Executive Branch launched such an assault on Congress’s exclusive legislative powers.”

Border Patrol agents patrol a stretch of desert along the U.S.-Mexico frontier. Image via Pixabay/user:mademoddymad. (CCA-BY-0.0)

“Without action by this Court to prevent the Administration’s usurpation of congressional authority, the unchecked expansion of the Executive’s power at the expensive of the Legislative Branch will threaten our democracy,” it continued.

A handful of Republicans have voiced skepticism over Trump’s executive order—while many have backed the president’s call for enhanced border security and a bigger wall along the Rio Grande, some fear that the commander-in-chief’s maneuvering could embolden future Democratic presidents to bypass Congress, too.

But challenges to Trump’s border wall aren’t only coming from Congress or a single coast. In late May, a federal judge in California placed an injunction on funds expropriations. That lawsuit, filed by a coalition of border communities and environmentalists, makes a similar argument: that the Trump administration is redirecting money Congress had earmarked for very different purposes.

The White House has asked for an expedited appeal of the California decision, meaning the two cases could collide on opposite sides of the country.

McFadden, adds CNN, clarified his take on the case before dismissing it, writing that Democrats need not shy away from challenging the chief executive.

“The case presents a close question about the appropriate role of the Judiciary in resolving disputes between the other two branches of the Federal Government,” McFadden opined. “To be clear, the court does not imply that Congress may never sue the Executive to protect its powers.”


House appeals ruling rejecting lawsuit to block spending on Trump border wall

House Democrats appeal judge’s ruling against their border wall lawsuit

Judge dismisses House lawsuit over border wall funding at their request

Join the conversation!