The US House of Representatives can move forward with a lawsuit that was filed against President Trump’s effort to build the border wall along the US-Mexico border, a US Appeals Court has ruled.
In a 24-page decision, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, ruled unanimously that the House had produced sufficient evidence that its constitutionally-granted power over raising and appropriating federal money had been “damaged” enough to give it the legal standing required to proceed with its lawsuit.
“Expenditures made without the House’s approval – or worse, as alleged here, in the face of its specific disapproval,” wrote Judge David B. Sentelle, “cause a concrete and particularized constitutional injury that the House experiences, and can seek redress for, independently.”
The DC Court’s decision reversed, in part, a lower court’s 2019 decision that ruled the Democrat-controlled House lacked legal standing to advance a lawsuit over a perceived threat to its control over federal spending.
Article I, Sections 7 and 8 of the US Constitution grant Congress with the sole authority to raise and appropriate revenue.
The Appeals Court did, however, rule against one aspect of the lawsuit brought by the House. The lower court ruled that the House did not have standing to sue the administration for violating the Administrative Procedures Act.
The Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 is a US federal statute that empowers the administrative agencies of the Executive Branch of the Federal government to propose and regulate regulations. It also empowers the US Supreme Court to review the decisions of the agencies.
“[U]nder the (administration’s) standing paradigm, the Executive Branch can freely spend Treasury funds as it wishes unless and until a veto-proof majority of both houses of Congress forbids it,” Sentelle wrote. “Even that might not be enough: Under the defendants’ standing theory, if the Executive Branch ignored that congressional override, the House would remain just as disabled to sue to protect its own institutional interests. That turns the constitutional order upside down.”
The genesis of the case is stemmed in President Trumps decision to declare a national security emergency at the US-Mexico border.
After a confrontation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer (D-NY), over appropriations to fund the building of a border wall, the President moved billions appropriated by Congress for other purposes to fund it.
Congress had provided $1.38 billion of the $5.7 billion Trump had asked for, setting the precedent that Congress was not ideologically or politically against the construction of the wall, a campaign promise to then-candidate Trump made to supporters in 2016.