A federal court cleared the way Friday for a lawsuit by House Democrats challenging President Trump’s use of emergency powers to redirect billions in public funds toward border wall construction.
Democrats have accused the White House of violating the Constitution by redirecting more than $6 billion toward the wall following Trump’s declaration of an emergency at the border in early 2019. In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit partially overturned a lower court’s ruling that found that the House did not have standing to challenge Trump on the issue.
“To put it simply, the Appropriations Clause requires two keys to unlock the Treasury, and the House holds one of those keys,” the senior judge wrote in the 24-page decision. “The Executive Branch has, in a word, snatched the House’s key out of its hands.”
The judges rejected the legal theory put forward by White House lawyers, who argued that Congress needs veto-proof majorities in both houses to challenge the president’s use of public funds. “That turns the constitutional order upside down,” the judge wrote. “The whole purpose of the appropriations clause’s structural protection is to deny the executive ‘an unbounded power over the public purse of the nation,’ and the power to ‘apply all its moneyed resources at his pleasure.’”