June 4, 2019
Judge declines to decide political contest between House Democrats and the executive branch
WASHINGTON – Yesterday DC District Court Judge Trevor McFadden decided against the U.S. House of Representatives in its lawsuit against the Trump administration’s transfer of funds to pay for a border wall. The judge roundly ruled that the House had no standing to ask the court to decide this bitter political dispute between House Democrats and the President. On behalf of Congressman Andy Barr (KY), the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.
A theme of IRLI’s brief had been that the House’s suit presented a non-justiciable question, because the National Emergencies Act already gives the House of Representatives a political role in national emergency declarations by allowing it, together with the Senate, to terminate an emergency declared by the President. And the political process, not litigation in court, is the appropriate method to decide a question as open-ended as whether or not a national “emergency” exists.
Similarly, citing the anomaly of courts deciding suits between the political branches, Judge McFadden found that the House lacked standing to bring this lawsuit, though he was careful to note that the House might have standing in a future possible case in which the constitutional separation of powers truly was at stake.
“This decision is a victory for democracy,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “It is breathtaking how the House leadership turned automatically to the courts to redo a political decision that had gone against them. In this country, the proper judges of the House’s votes and the President’s actions are the voters. The courts are there to protect democracy, not substitute for it, and we are pleased Judge McFadden saw the distinction.”
The case is U.S. House of Representatives v. Mnuchin, No. 1:19-cv-0969 (D.D.C.).
For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]
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