Last night, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia rejected Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s attempt to block the Trump Administration from securing our border.
The ACLJ participated in this case, by filing an amicus brief in support of the Trump Administration and its efforts to put an end to the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border and protect Americans.
In this case, the U.S. House of Representatives led by Speaker Pelosi, had sought a preliminary injunction to stop the Trump Administration from utilizing and transferring funds to secure the border via an appropriations statute, 10 U.S.C. § 284(b)(7), a transfer provision, § 8005 of the 2019 DOD Appropriations Act, and also separate funds pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 2808, a statute identified by the President in his National Emergencies Act declaration.
We raised several arguments in our brief. Among them, we asserted that the Speaker Pelosi-led U.S. House of Representatives lacked standing – the legal right to sue – to challenge the Trump Administration’s usage of congressionally enacted funding statutes.
The Court agreed.
We also argued that it was improper for the U.S. House – because it does not like the President’s policy – to demand that a court intervene to change the rules in a political dispute between two branches of government. In other words, Congress passed the laws and appropriated the funds. The President is using those funds according to the constraints imposed by Congress. Because of constitutional separation of powers principles, a court should not take sides in a case like this.
The Court agreed, finding that the dispute is political and not appropriate for court intervention. Therefore, the Court did not reach the merits – because the U.S. House’s lack of standing meant that the preliminary injunction it requested was doomed from the outset.
Speaker Pelosi’s U.S. House did not even have the right to be heard in court in the first place.
As the Court put it, “[t]he Court declines to take sides in this fight between the House and the President.” Further, the Court explained:
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. But considering the House’s burden to establish it has standing, the lack of any binding precedent showing that it does, and the teachings of Raines and Arizona State Legislature, the Court cannot assume jurisdiction to proceed to the merits. For these reasons, it will deny the House’s motion.
And as we argued in our brief in this case:
The bottom line is that Congress did appropriate the funds being utilized by the Defendants to secure portions of the Southern Border and authorized the transfer of additional funds for that purpose. 10 U.S.C. § 284(b)(7); FY 2019 DOD Appropriations Act, § 8005. Defendants are utilizing and transferring appropriated funds for the right purposes and within the constraints imposed by Congress. Court intervention – especially in the form of preliminary injunctive relief – attempting to give some unhappy members of Congress and certain of their constituents the result that the actual representative body of Congress is politically unwilling or unable to achieve within the constitutional structure would violate separation of powers principles and improperly invade the provinces of the political branches.
Even if Plaintiff succeeded in overcoming the multiple legal and factual flaws underlying its case (e.g., establishing standing), which it does not, only the question of whether the Defendants possessed the authority to use appropriated funds for these particular purposes can properly be before this Court for review. What is not before this Court is a determination of the favorability and wisdom of the President’s national security policy decisions.
If Speaker Pelosi decides to appeal the Court’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the ACLJ will file in that Court as well.
But this is not the only case we are engaging. The ACLJ is also participating in other lawsuits where the President’s opponents are trying relentlessly to stop him from securing our border. As we reported last month, we filed an amicus brief in California v. Trump, 19-cv-872 (N.D. Cal.), and plan to file an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit in a related case, Sierra Club v. Trump, 19-cv-892), which the Trump Administration has just recently appealed.
As we’ve said before (here and here), the crisis at the border is real and it must be stopped. Our nation’s borders must be secured. The ACLJ will continue to defend our government’s efforts to do just that.
You can stand with us, too. In fact, we need your voice. Join our briefs. Sign our Petition to Secure the Border today.
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