A federal judge in Texas declared on Friday that President Trump
‘s proclamation of a national emergency on the southern border is unlawful, blocking the plan to divert funding for a border wall.
Judge David Briones of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas said in his opinion that the plan would be blocked after getting input from both sides in a lawsuit for the scope of an injunction.
The lawsuit was brought by El Paso County in Texas and a group called the Border Network for Human Rights.
Briones, who was appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton
, ruled that Trump overstepped his authority to divert more funds to border security than what was appropriated by Congress.
He also ruled that El Paso has standing to sue the president and members of his Cabinet because the county “suffered reputational and economic injuries” as a result of the administration’s rhetoric on the situation at the border and the construction plans that the proclamation entailed.
“The longer the President’s Proclamation remains in effect, the more the County’s reputation will be tarnished in the eyes of tourists and developers,” the plaintiffs wrote in a filing in April.
“Throughout history, democracies have been felled by overzealous leaders who sought to aggrandize their own powers under the banner of real or imagined ‘emergencies,’” Kristy Parker, a lawyer with the nonprofit Protect Democracy who represented the plaintiffs, said in a statement.
“Our Founders were wise enough to anticipate that danger and created a strong separation of powers to prevent that from happening here,” Parker added. “Today’s ruling vindicates the Founders’ wisdom and confirms that the president is not a king, and that he cannot override Congress’s power to decide how to appropriate funds.”
The White House and Department of Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump prompted a bipartisan backlash when he issued the proclamation in February, shortly after he signed a spending bill passed by Congress that did not raise the border funds he had requested.
The order directed the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security to divert funds Congress approved for other uses towards border security.
“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,” Trump said in the proclamation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) condemned the move at the time, accusing the president of pulling an unconstitutional “power grab” by making up a crisis that doesn’t exist.