The emergency declaration by Donald Trump has been challenged by 16 states in the court. More than the wall itself, the entire dogfight appears to be a perfect prelude to Elections 2020.
- Donald Trump has declared a national emergency on February 15, 2019 to funnel funds for his border wall.
- In response, 16 states have sued Trump for the declaration, calling it a misuse of Presidential power.
- The emergency declaration can be overturned only with 2/3rdmajority in both houses.
- Use of emergency declaration for such a project is unprecedented in the entire history of the United States.
Donald Trump is the 45th President of United States of America – the world’s largest economy. However, the manner in which he has disrupted politics in the country could put most startups to shame! It is no wonder that he hogs media across mediums either, since there is hardly a dull moment with Captain Trump at the wheel.
Trump sets another new precedent in the history of US presidency on February 15, when he signed a bi-partisan bill on border security that allowed US$ 1.3 billion for his border wall. He then declared a national emergency to secure funds for his border wall from other sources, which could include military or disaster relief budgets. He told the media that the declaration was needed as the US is facing “an invasion of drugs, an invasion of gangs, an invasion of people”. He further claimed that Democrats were
lying when they said most immigration comes from the port of entry and walls work 100%.
Emergency has never been declared for a construction project like a wall ever before. Previous Presidents have normally invoked emergency to tackle foreign policy problems – blocking finance to terrorist entities or stopping investments in countries with human rights abuses.
BATTLE LINES ARE DRAWN:
Now 16 states including New York and California have filed a legal case against Trump’s emergency declaration, calling it an abuse of his Presidential power. Except for Maryland, all these states are governed by the Democrats.
Trump had actually predicted this earlier when he said,
“We will have a national emergency, and we will then be sued. And they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit, even though it shouldn’t be there… And we’ll possibly get a bad ruling and then we’ll get another bad ruling and then we’ll end up the Supreme Court, and then hopefully we’ll get a fair shake and we’ll win in the Supreme Court, just like the ban.”
This indicates, that he is even ready for a long legal battle with the Democrats.
Snippets from President Trump’s Twitter:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2019
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2019
Full Speech :
President Trump Speaks on the National Security & Humanitarian Crisis on Our Southern Border https://t.co/FqdfFORbv5
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 15, 2019
Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that it sets a dangerous precedent, as she commented:
“If the president can declare an emergency on something he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think about what a president with different values can present to the American people… A Democratic president can declare emergencies as well.”
The emergency act has a clause wherein it can be overturned if both Houses vote against it by simple majority and the President does not veto them. We know where that is headed. To overturn the Presidential veto, a super majority (2/3rdin favour) is required in both houses.
WHO HAS A STRONGER CASE?
Democrats have affirmed that they will use Trump’s own statement on February 15 that he “didn’t need” to declare the emergency but wanted to move faster than the Congress on Border Security. Moreover, experts are not convinced of the ‘crisis at the border’ argument. While emergency may seem an extreme decision, the Democrats may be on a slightly weaker standing when they challenge the President’s decision to bypass parliament. There are a precedent of former President Barack Obama bypassing the Congress.
Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University, brings out details in a BBC column of some such excesses. He writes:
“In one State of the Union address, Mr Obama chastised both houses for refusing to give him changes in immigration laws and other changes. He then declared his intention to get the same results by unilateral executive action… That shocking pledge was met with a roar of approval from the Democrats – including Speaker Nancy Pelosi – who celebrated the notion of their own institutional irrelevancy.”
In another instance, the House of Representatives challenged Obama’s unilateral payment of appropriation to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act. The federal court in Washington DC had then ruled out that Obama had violated the constitution.
So even legally, the struggle for the Democrats would be far from a cakewalk. Trump could even state for instance that the use of military funds is justified as the wall would support US troops at the border.
- Chances are fairly miniscule that Trump’s emergency will be overturned by the required supermajority in both houses of Parliament.
- Given this context, the legal process is the only plausible option for the Democrats to challenge Trump.
- The case is strong for Democrats on the grounds of whether there is really a case for emergency, apart from the fact that Trump himself seemed to say it wasn’t necessary.
- On the other hand, Trump’s defence could cite past precedence of excesses under the Obama administration to blunt the Democrat’s charge.
- Considering Trump knew the legal ramifications, this seems more a strategy for Elections 2020 rather than a desire to quicken the pace of wall construction.