Tally another loss for the great deal-maker-in-chief and his obsessive need to build a “big, beautiful” border wall with taxpayer money that hasn’t been approved by Congress.
A federal judge on Friday made permanent, and then expanded, a previous order to halt construction of parts of Donald Trump’s wall along the southern U.S. border.
U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr., of the Northern District of California, prohibited the Trump administration from using Defense Department funding to build the wall in areas of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, Politico reported. The judge also added more sections to the no-build zone, in Arizona and California.
In May, Gilliam had ruled in favor of a preliminary injunction sought by several states, led by California, in one case, and by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition in another. Gilliam’s rulings on Friday were in favor of plaintiffs in both cases, handing Trump a double loss.
The new rulings prevent Trump from using about $2.5 billion in military funding, which was an effort to circumvent lawmakers’ unwillingness to fully fund the project, the Associated Press reported. Trump had sought about $6.7 billion to begin construction of the wall, and he declared a national emergency over the issue last February. Without Gilliam’s ruling on Friday, wall construction could have started as early as next week.
“All President Trump has succeeded in building is a constitutional crisis, threatening immediate harm to our state,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, according to the AP.
In his ruling, Gilliam noted that Trump’s attempt to use military funding defies Congress’ intent to deny him that funding for a border wall, violating the legislature’s authority to oversee spending.
“This decision upholds the basic principle that the President has no power to spend taxpayer money without Congress’ approval,” ACLU National Security Project lawyer Dror Ladin said, according to CNN. “We will continue to defend this core principle of our democracy, which the courts have recognized for centuries.”
Unsurprisingly, Trump did not respect the judge’s rulings, calling them a “disgrace.” Speaking at a press conference on Saturday at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Trump said “we’re immediately appealing it and we think we’ll win the appeal,” the AP reported. “There was no reason that that should have happened. And a lot of wall is being built,” he added.
Per the AP:
The president identified $3.6 billion from military construction funds, $2.5 billion from Defense Department counterdrug activities and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund.
The judge Friday didn’t rule on funding from the military construction and Treasury budgets.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also is expected to begin addressing the Trump administration’s use of military funding for the border wall next week. Stay tuned.