Two weeks ago, President Trump stepped out into the White House Rose Garden to declare a national emergency in order to secure funds for his barrier on the southern border. Unlike many of his recent executive actions, the national emergency declaration triggers a bypass of Congress that permits the executive branch to reallocate and divert pre-appropriated federal funds to construct his barrier, a pivotal campaign promise, that has proven to be unreachable in Congress.
In his Rose Garden address, Trump acknowledged the seemingly inevitable and likely lengthy court battles that lie ahead, saying, “I’ll sign the final papers as soon as I get into the Oval Office … and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit [court of appeals]” Trump’s assumptions of litigation were validated in the hours after the emergency declaration, as New Jersey’s Attorney General Gurbir Grewal tweeted “We’ll see you in court.”
The following Monday, 16 states filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to stop the national emergency declaration, with New Jersey being one of them.
In the complaint, New Jersey claims grievances through the loss of funding for counter-narcotic programs. Jeremy Feigenbaum, Counsel to Attorney General Grewal, walked through the process that the state A.G.’s office goes through when it comes to joining lawsuits such as the one filed on Monday.
“Firstly, Attorney General Grewal asks two questions; first, is the action wrong on the law; second, if it is wrong on the law, does it affect New Jersey?” In this case, Feigenbaum said the answer to both questions is yes. Feigenbaum highlighted that the loss of counter-narcotic funding would be devastating to a state like New Jersey, which is on the front lines of the opioid crisis.
The loss of funding for counter-narcotic programs is not the only concern with the national emergency, however. The purported circumvention of the Congressional power of the purse has alarmed many, including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who said in a statement that he is “very concerned with President Trump’s decision to declare an emergency to build his ineffective and unnecessary wall. His decision to circumvent Congress is not only fiscally reckless, but constitutionally dubious.”
During his declaration, Trump either intentionally or mistakenly said “I didn’t need to do this,” something that Attorney General Grewal found particularly objectionable. “President Trump admitted Friday that he didn’t have to issue this declaration, which is proof enough that this crisis is manufactured,” Grewal said.
Seton Hall students are also voicing their concern over the national emergency.
Lakshmi Vemuri, a junior Diplomacy student, said that she felt the declaration was unjust. “I think it’s completely unjust and it’s not very smart of Trump to do this, as there’s several other situations that could qualify as a national emergency; Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water,” Vemuri said.
Going forward, Vemuri was skeptical on whether or not future presidents should follow Trump’s lead in declaring national emergencies to achieve policy objectives.
“I think that declaring national emergencies should stop immediately, it poses a real threat to the checks and balances that are set out in the Constitution,” Vemuri added.
As the lawsuit heads to court in the Ninth Circuit, several governmental watchdogs including the American Civil Liberties Union have also filed lawsuits against the Trump administration, burying the West Wing in legal documents. House Democrats also passed a resolution to block the national emergency, where the Senate will now decide its fate.
Zachary Shaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @zach_shaw_.