Lawsuit Against Trump’s National Emergency Immediately Throws His Own Words Back in His Face

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It was immediately apparent that numerous lawsuits would arise in the aftermath of President Donald Trump‘s national emergency declaration to build a wall on the Mexican border, but it was just as obvious how these complaints would begin. Legal experts cried out that Trump had already undercut his executive action by uttering the words “I didn’t need to do this.” George Conway, for example, said that would be the “first sentence of the first paragraph of every complaint filed this afternoon.”

Conway was a little off on the paragraph, line number, and the day, but animal and wildlife activists at the Center of Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Legal Defense fund did not take long to mention that Trump himself said he didn’t have to do this, calling into question whether this was a legitimate emergency.

“Though ’emergency’ is not defined under the NEA, its common usage typically involves elements of suddenness and surprise. Emergencies generally require an urgent response. The present situation sharply departs from both of these generalities,” paragraph two begins. “Here, the President first declared his intent to invoke the NEA nearly two months prior to making the proclamation. During the intervening time, he indicated his “absolute” right to declare an emergency, waffled as to whether he would exercise the authority, and repeatedly stated his intent to use an emergency proclamation should Congress continue to refuse to meet his $5.7 billion funding demand for a southern border wall.”

“When the President finally did announce his emergency proclamation in the White House Rose Garden, he concluded that ‘I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this [but] I’d rather do it much faster,'” paragraph two concluded.

“Of the 58 times presidents have previously declared emergencies under the National Emergencies Act, none involved using the emergency powers to fund a policy goal after a president failed to meet that goal through foreign diplomacy (having Mexico pay for the wall) or the congressional appropriations process,” the lawsuit continues. “Never before has a president used the emergency powers granted to him by Congress in such a manner.”

The plaintiffs eventually highlighted their main concern: that using funds to build a wall will harm wildlife and enable wildlife trafficking.

“The diversion of funds that would otherwise be used to combat organized crime— including wildlife trafficking—to border wall construction harms Plaintiffs’ efforts to reduce such trafficking,” the plaintiffs claim. “This diversion of funds will both force Plaintiffs to spend additional organizational resources on combatting wildlife trafficking and raising awareness about it. It also harms Plaintiffs and their members’ interests in observing, enjoying, and protecting frequently trafficked species and the intact ecosystems in which they reside.”

They are asking the U.S. District Court to declare this national emergency unlawful.

You can read the rest of the complaint below.

Lawsuit Over National Emerg… on Scribd

[Image via Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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