Although Friday’s ruling does not prevent the Trump administration from using funds from other sources to build the projects, it’s a setback for the President on a signature agenda item that has consistently been thwarted by Democrats in Congress. Construction on the projects affected by the ruling could have begun as early as Saturday, according to the ruling.
“The position that when Congress declines the Executive’s request to appropriate funds, the Executive nonetheless may simply find a way to spend those funds ‘without Congress’ does not square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic,” writes Gilliam, a Barack Obama appointee.
He added, “because the Court has found that Plaintiffs are likely to show that Defendants’ actions exceeded their statutory authority, and that irreparable harm will result from those actions, a preliminary injunction must issue pending a resolution of the merits of the case.”
The lawsuit that prompted Friday’s ruling argues that the declaration was “made solely out of disagreement with Congress’s decision about the proper funding level, location, and timetable for constructing a border wall.” It also alleges that the construction of the wall would negatively impact the environment and communities along the border.
The ACLU hailed Gilliam’s decision.
“This order is a win for our system of checks and balances, the rule of law, and border communities. The court blocked all the wall projects currently slated for immediate construction. If the administration begins illegally diverting additional military funds, we’ll be back in court to block that as well,” Dror Ladin, an ACLU staff attorney, said in a statement.