For Immediate Release,
April 2, 2020
WASHINGTON— A federal judge today blocked the Trump administration’s effort to dismiss a lawsuit filed by conservation groups over the president’s emergency declaration to pay for his border walls.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden dismissed portions of the case but ordered that the crux of it ― challenging Trump’s use of military funds to build border walls ― should continue. The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
“The heart of this important case remains, which is that Trump ran roughshod over Congress to get money for his destructive border wall,” said Brian Segee, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The administration completely overstepped its authority by declaring a so-called ‘emergency’ so it could steal money from the military to create this environmental and humanitarian disaster. We’re pleased the court agrees that this case should move forward.”
The lawsuit, filed in February 2019, says the president violated the U.S. Constitution by overstepping his executive authority and sidestepping Congress to appropriate more than $6 billion to construct walls along the southern border. Trump also illegally invoked the National Emergencies Act and abused the authority given to him by Congress by reallocating money in a non-emergency situation to fund a policy goal, the suit argues.
The Center, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Legal Defense Fund also sued the Trump administration to challenge waivers that sweep aside public health and safety laws to speed construction of border walls from the Pacific Ocean to the Rio Grande Valley. A petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review federal court rulings in those cases is pending.
Beyond jeopardizing wildlife, endangered species and public lands, the U.S.-Mexico border wall is part of a larger strategy of ongoing border militarization that damages human rights, civil liberties, native lands, local businesses and international relations. The border wall impedes the natural migrations of people and wildlife that are essential to healthy diversity.