(PM) — A federal judge on Monday dismissed a House petition to thwart President Donald Trump from using Defense Department funds for his intended border wall with Mexico, declaring Congress lacked jurisdiction to sue.
Trump’s triumph is benumbed by a federal judgment in California last month that obstructed building of key segments of the wall. The California lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on account of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, appointed by Trump, penned that the House’s suit was “about whether one chamber of Congress has the ‘constitutional means’ to conscript the Judiciary in a political turf war with the President over the implementation of legislation.”
McFadden said Congress didn’t have jurisdiction in this case but that he didn’t intend to imply the legislature could never dispute the president in court over separation of powers.
“An old maxim in politics holds that, ‘Where you stand depends on where you sit,’” he wrote. “At law too, whether a plaintiff has standing often depends on where he sits. A seat in Congress comes with many prerogatives, but legal standing to superintend the execution of laws is not among them.”
The Justice Department embraced the decision, stating the judge “rightly ruled that the House of Representatives cannot ask the judiciary to take its side in political disputes and cannot use federal courts to accomplish through litigation what it cannot achieve using the tools the Constitution gives to Congress.”
A federal judge in Oakland, California, just ruled May 24 that Trump encroached upon his authority and prevented work from starting on two of the highest-priority, Pentagon-funded wall designs. The administration plans to file an appeal on the ruling by Haywood Gilliam Jr., an appointee of President Barack Obama.
At stake is billions of dollars that would enable Trump to make progress on a trademark campaign promise heading into the election for his second term. The administration faces several suits over the emergency declaration but only two asked to prevent construction throughout the legal challenge.
Trump previously declared a national emergency in February after losing a battle with the House that headed to a 35-day government shutdown and identified up to $8.1 billion for wall construction. The funds include $3.6 billion of military construction funds, $2.5 billion from Defense Department counterdrug activities and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund.
The Defense Department has now moved the counterdrug money. Patrick Shanahan, the acting defense secretary, is presumed to determine any day whether to shift the military construction funds.