WASHINGTON – California and 15 other states sued President Donald Trump on Monday over his decision to declare a national emergency to free up funding for his controversial border wall, calling the move “unlawful and unconstitutional.”
The states allege in their lawsuit that Trump’s emergency declaration exceeds the power of the president and unconstitutionally redirects federal money that Congress had set aside for other purposes. Trump made the declaration on Friday after lawmakers sent him a government funding bill that included $1.375 billion for the wall.
White House officials said they believe they can unlock an additional $6.6 billion through the emergency declaration and other budget maneuvers.
“President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “He knows there is no border crisis, he knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The states’ lawsuit is only the latest, and it’s probably not the last. Hours after Trump signed the declaration, the watchdog group Public Citizen filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia. The suit was filed on behalf of Texas landowners who own property on the Rio Grande.
But the lawsuit filed by the states will be especially important to watch, in part because of the legal resources attorneys general bring to major federal litigation and in part because of their standing to sue. The states joining California are: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Virginia.