Appeals court permits House to sue over Trump’s border wall spending

A panel ruled that the House had standing to pursue a constitutional lawsuit over the president’s move to spend more money on a wall than Congress had approved

In early 2019, President Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border that he said empowered him to unilaterally transfer other public money to that project./Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

By Charlie Savage | The New York Times

The House may pursue a constitutional lawsuit challenging President Trump’s use of emergency powers to spend more public funds on a southwestern border wall than Congress was willing to appropriate, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the House had claimed a sufficient injury to give lawmakers legal standing to pursue a lawsuit against the Trump administration.

The 24-page ruling partly reversed a decision by a district court judge in June 2019. That ruling had thrown out the lawsuit on the grounds that the House had no legal standing to sue the executive branch over a claimed threat to its constitutionally authorized control over federal spending.

That earlier ruling, by Judge Trevor N. McFadden of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, whom Mr. Trump appointed to the bench, was wrong, the appeals court said. It would undermine the “ironclad constitutional rule” that the president has no power to spend money without the approval of both the House and the Senate, the panel said.

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