The Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Animal Legal Defense filed a lawsuit in Washington D.C. against the Trump White House. Specifically, it was over Trump’s “emergency declaration to pay for his border walls.” It argued:
‘…the president is violating the U.S. Constitution by overstepping his executive authority and sidestepping Congress to appropriate more than $6 billion to construct walls along the southern border. Trump also illegally invoked the National Emergencies Act and abused the authority given to him by Congress by reallocating money in a non-emergency situation to fund a policy goal.’
The Center’s statement stated that Trump’s wall jeopardizes “wildlife, endangered species, and public lands.” In addition, the wall is “a piece:”
‘..of ongoing “border militarization that damages human rights, civil liberties, native lands, local businesses and international relations. The border wall impedes the natural migrations of people and wildlife that are essential to healthy diversity.’
Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells stated that Trump’s action was “another illegal attempt:”
‘This declaration is another illegal attempt to avoid public scrutiny of a massive public project. Many species of animals, including endangered species, are put at risk by this project, and all alternatives that protect wildlife and the environment must be considered by law. We will continue to pursue all legal avenues to assure the law is upheld.’
Senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, Brian Segee said:
‘The only emergency here is Trump’s assault on the Constitution. Separation of powers is at the heart of our democracy and the power of the purse is a critical check on the president. Trump’s authoritarian attempt to build his destructive border wall is a flagrant abuse of that constitutional structure. If he gets his way, it’ll be a disaster for communities and wildlife along the border, including some of our country’s most endangered species.’
Vice president of conservation law at Defenders of Wildlife, Mike Senatore wrote:
‘President Trump has already displayed his contempt for the rule of law by waiving dozens of environmental laws to build his wall. Now he is showing that he is willing to tear up the Constitution itself to get his way. Defenders of Wildlife will fight to protect our communities, our wildlife and now our constitutional rights from this destructive and needless wall.’
After Congress authorized $2.4 billion in border enforcement in January 2017, the Center filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s border wall. The authorization included $1.7 billion to build 73 miles of border barriers. Then, the latest 2019 budget deal increased the wall’s length to 128 miles.
Then, the Center wrote about the history of national emergencies:
‘Presidents have declared at least 58 states of emergency since Congress passed the National Emergencies Act in 1976 and dozens are still in effect. Nearly all of the declared emergencies relate to sanctions or export restrictions. None of the laws that can be used to trigger use of the act involve immigration or border wall construction. And none of those laws allow reallocation of previously appropriated funds to border wall construction.’
The Center, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund also sued Trump challenging waivers that:
‘…sweep aside public health and safety laws to speed construction of border walls in California, Texas and New Mexico.’
The Center for Biological Diversity describes itself as a national nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists “dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.”
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. It files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm and provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes.
All of the lawsuits are pending.
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