Congressman Defends Trump on Emergency

Press Releases

April 10, 2019

“This is the way Trump will build his wall”

WASHINGTON – Activist groups (including the House of Representatives) are suing President Trump in numerous federal district courts across the country in an attempt to overturn his declaration of a national emergency at the border, and stop the administration from building a border wall in response to that emergency. In a friend-of-the-court brief drafted by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), Congressman Andy Barr of Kentucky argues that two of these cases, which are before the same judge in the District of Columbia, should be dismissed.

In essence, the private activist groups bringing these two cases claim that Trump lacked the constitutional and statutory authority to declare a national emergency and then veto a joint resolution of the House and Senate to terminate that emergency. In their brief, IRLI and Rep. Barr (himself a former professor of constitutional law) note that when Congress passed the National Emergencies Act (NEA) in 1976, it intended to give the President maximum flexibility in declaring national emergencies, and so included no statutory language whatsoever to define what a national emergency might be. To reign in any presidential overreaching, the NEA provides that Congress can terminate a national emergency declared by the President with a two-thirds majority. IRLI and Barr show that by refusing to define the word “emergency,” and enacting this political process for reviewing presidential declarations, Congress meant to exclude courts from reviewing them altogether.

“To call these suits ‘meritless’ is putting it mildly,” commented Dale Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border is a political question that is out of bounds for the courts. And even if courts are going to start issuing legal rulings about what constitutes an ‘emergency,’ it gets clearer by the day that if what is happening at the border isn’t an emergency, nothing is. This is the way Trump will build his wall,” Wilcox concluded, “and the courts have no jurisdiction to interfere.”

The cases are Alvarez v. Trump, No. 1:19-cv-0404 (D.D.C.) and Center for Biological Diversity v. Trump, No. 1:19-cv-0408 (D.D.C.).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

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