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World & Nation

Judge rejects Congress’ challenge of border wall funding

FILE - In this April 5, 2019, file photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle sits near the
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle near the border wall in April.
(Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

A federal judge on Monday denied a House request to prevent President Trump from tapping Defense Department money for his proposed border wall with Mexico, saying Congress lacked authority to sue.

Trump’s victory is muted by a federal ruling in California last month that blocked construction of key sections of the wall. The California case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, wrote that the House’s lawsuit was “about whether one chamber of Congress has the ‘constitutional means’ to conscript the judiciary in a political turf war with the president over the implementation of legislation.”

McFadden said Congress didn’t have authority in this case but didn’t mean to imply the legislative body could never challenge the president in court over separation of powers.

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“An old maxim in politics holds that, ‘Where you stand depends on where you sit,’” he wrote. “At law too, whether a plaintiff has standing often depends on where he sits. A seat in Congress comes with many prerogatives, but legal standing to superintend the execution of laws is not among them.”

The Justice Department welcomed the decision, saying the judge “rightly ruled that the House of Representatives cannot ask the judiciary to take its side in political disputes and cannot use federal courts to accomplish through litigation what it cannot achieve using the tools the Constitution gives to Congress.”

A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats were reviewing the ruling and evaluating whether to appeal.


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