WASHINGTON, DC – A federal judge dismissed House Democrats’ lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s border wall, holding that the lawmakers lacked standing to bring the matter to court.
President Trump persuaded Congress to appropriate $1.4 billion for a border wall. He then also issued Presidential Proclamation 9844, exercising his authority under the National Emergencies Act to secure additional funding from three other federal sources totaling $6.7 billion more.
Led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Democrats voted to sue in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking an injunction against the Departments of Treasury, Defense, Interior and Homeland Security, to block construction of the wall. House Democrats argued the administration’s actions violate the Appropriations Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The Department of Justice argued the House lacks standing to bring this political fight into federal court. House Democrats countered the Trump administration’s actions amounted to inflicting an “institutional injury” on Congress.
“The power of federal courts is not an unconditioned authority to determine the constitutionality of legislative or executive acts,” wrote Judge Trevor McFadden, quoting Supreme Court precedent.
“As the plaintiff, the House bears the burden of establishing standing,” the Trump-appointed trial judge continued. “The Court presumes that it lacks jurisdiction unless the contrary appears affirmatively from the record.”
Examining Supreme Court cases where Congress claimed previous administrations were injuring the legislative branch, the judge’s 24-page opinion reasoned that Congress had not exhausted the various tools at its disposal to stop the wall through the legislative process, and therefore had not suffered a concrete and distinct injury that conferred standing to bring this matter into court.
McFadden explained that “while the Constitution bestows upon Members of the House many powers, it does not grant them standing to hale the Executive Branch into court claiming a dilution of Congress’s legislative authority.”
The judge concluded that this is a political controversy that the Constitution requires the elected branches of government to work through with the various powers at their disposal, not a legal controversy that be decided by unelected federal judges.
House Democrats can now take this matter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which currently leans to the judicial left. From there, the losing side may petition the Supreme Court to take the case, likely in 2020.
The case is U.S. House of Representatives v. Mnuchin, No. 1:19-cv-969 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.