Okay, stop me if you've heard this one before. An Obama judge, a Trump judge and a Clinton judge walk into a court room...
Because they've all been assigned to hear a legal challenges filed against President Trump’s new border wall emergency declaration.
I know what you're thinking - that's not funny. You're right, and it's not supposed to be.
In the past presidents have found a way to get around Congress in order to do things that the suits on Capitol Hill thought they had the power to block. Presidents have accomplished this task by redirecting funds and triggering the same National Emergencies Act that Mr. Trump is using as justification to build part of his border wall. Of course, no other President has produced the same brand of outrage that Trump is seeing this week.
New York’s attorney general said Trump has created a "constitutional crisis" but conservative legal scholars say otherwise.
Even still, Trump's national security declaration is spawning legal challenges.
Two of these lawsuits were filed in the ultra liberal federal court in the Northern District of California. The lawsuits were launched by a group of Democratic states led by California and also from the Sierra Club and American Civil Liberties Union. The judge in that case is Obama appointee Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr.
Other lawsuits were filed by a group of Texas landowners and a coalition of environmental groups. Those were filed in the federal district court in Washington, D.C. and will appear before Judge Trevor N. McFadden, a Trump appointee.
Senior District Judge David Briones was given a fifth case filed late Wednesday in federal court in the Western District of Texas.
Other legal analysts said that was a sad lens with which to view the law, and said they hoped — and expected — judges would treat the cases fairly no matter who appointed them.
The lawsuits make the same basic challenges. They argue there is no border emergency, since apprehensions of illegal immigrants are down, immigrants aren’t generally responsible for crime, and a fence won’t stop the hard drugs that mostly get driven through official border crossings. Even if there is an emergency, the lawsuits say Congress, not the president, gets to decide where taxpayers’ money is spent, and Congress only gave Mr. Trump $1.375 billion, not the $8 billion he now says he has access to.
Bernadette Meyler, a law professor at Stanford University, said arguing the border emergency is a tough one for the challengers, since judges will usually defer to a president making judgments about whether an emergency exists or not.
She said the stronger argument is over Congress’s powers, where the Supreme Court has said Capitol Hill has the power to appropriate money, and lawmakers just can’t give that away to the president, no matter what a law might suggest.
In this case, she said, Congress explicitly considered and rejected Mr. Trump’s full request, which under court precedent means his emergency powers are at their lowest.
This battle won't be as easy or as difficult for Trump to fight as many of his biggest critics and cheerleaders seem to believe. The fact that he has a judge ruling over the case who was appointed in 2017 means he's at least got one person on his side in this mess. Of course, the Clinton & Obama judges won't be as easy to persuade but it's still too soon to tell how this will probably conclude because the specifics of Trump's emergency declaration are still unknown. And that's the part of the story none of the "experts" care to admit. We can't defend or support the emergency declaration until the details of said declaration have been presented during a discovery of evidence.
We'll keep you posted.
Photo of aggressive migrant caravan by Getty Images