Just hours after President Donald Trump stood in the White House Rose Garden and declared a national emergency on the southern border, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it would file a lawsuit against the president, seeking to prevent him from using emergency powers to fund border wall construction.
Trump's attempt to bypass Congress to access billions of dollars in funding that the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives refused him was widely expected to meet legal challenge, either from congressional Democrats or from advocacy groups.
"This is a patently illegal power grab that hurts American communities and flouts the checks and balances that are hallmarks of our democracy," Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said in a statement. "We will be filing a lawsuit early next week."
While the ACLU plans to release additional details about its lawsuit next week, the organization's initial announcement explained that it intends to argue that the specific emergency power Trump invoked—10 U.S.C. 2808—does not empower the president to build something like a border wall. The ACLU claims that existing law outlines how 10 U.S.C. 2808, which allows the president to fund military construction, only allows construction that is necessary to support the emergency use of the military.
The ACLU also indicated that it will make a constitutional argument about separation of powers.
"The Constitution assigns Congress the power of the purse, and no prior president has ever tried to use emergency powers to fund a chosen project—particularly a permanent, large-scale domestic project such as this—against congressional will. This is obviously improper," Dror Ladin, a staff attorney with the ACLU's National Security Project, said in a statement.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced in a press conference Friday that the state of California also intends to introduce a lawsuit against Trump.
"No other state is going to be impacted by this declaration of emergency more than the state of California," Newsom said during the conference in Sacramento, going on to call the wall "a monument to stupidity." California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the Los Angeles Times that the state would "be ready soon" to introduce the federal lawsuit.