Federal Courts Rule Against Border Wall Construction
FAIR Take | October 2020
President Trump’s efforts to hasten the construction of a barrier on our southwest border faced roadblocks in the courts recently. In two instances, federal courts dealt setbacks to the construction of a border wall – one of his signature campaign promises.
The first case, Sierra Club v. Trump (No. 19-17501), concerns the president’s emergency declaration in February that permitted the use of billions of dollars in appropriated military funds for construction of the border wall. President Trump declared this emergency as a way to end the longest shutdown in American history, which occurred after budget talks broke down over the inclusion of wall funding. In a 2-1 ruling, the notorious U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the move was illegal and halted any further construction of the border wall. The panel upheld a 2019 ruling by a district court that the use of appropriated defense funding was illegal.
Separately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the Trump administration must face the legal challenge of a butterfly sanctuary who claimed that the government’s plan to build the border wall through part of its property violates the sanctuary’s Fifth Amendment rights. Specifically, the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) claimed in court that the construction of the border wall “deprived the Association of various property interests in its Center without due process of law, in violation of the Fifth Amendment.” In a 2-1 ruling, the D.C. Circuit court reversed a lower court’s ruling that previously dismissed the claims, teeing up a future legal battle that the federal government must address. The case is North American Butterfly Association v. Wolf (No. 19-5052).
Open-borders activists, immigration lawyers, and illegal alien interest groups continue to find success stopping President Trump’s immigration reform agenda in the federal courts. As FAIR documented in its “Democratic Wall of Opposition” report, activists brought lawsuits against many of his signature immigration executive actions despite being on firm legal footing. These cases are no different, and reflect the growing sense that opponents of immigration reform can stymie the Trump administration through targeted lawsuits in front of sympathetic activist judges.