August 1, 2019
Urges court to stay out of political question
WASHINGTON – Activist groups (including the House of Representatives) are suing President Trump in numerous federal district courts across the country in an attempt to overturn his declaration of a national emergency at the border, and stop the administration from building a border wall in response to that emergency. In a friend-of-the-court brief submitted yesterday by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), Congressman Andy Barr of Kentucky argues that yet another of these cases, this one in the District of Columbia, should be dismissed.
In essence, the private activist groups bringing this case claim that Trump lacked the constitutional and statutory authority to declare a national emergency and then veto a joint resolution of the House and Senate to terminate that emergency.
In their brief, IRLI and Rep. Barr (himself a former professor of constitutional law) note that when Congress passed the National Emergencies Act (NEA) in 1976, it intended to give the President maximum flexibility in declaring national emergencies, and so included no statutory language whatsoever to define what a national emergency might be.
To rein in any presidential overreaching, the NEA provides that Congress can terminate a national emergency declared by the President with a two-thirds majority. IRLI and Barr show that by refusing to define the word “emergency,” and enacting this political process for reviewing presidential declarations, Congress meant to exclude courts from reviewing them altogether.
“To call these suits ‘meritless’ is putting it mildly,” commented Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border is a political question that is clearly out of bounds for the courts. And everyone agrees by now that there is, in fact, an emergency at the border. We remain confident that these desperate attempts by well-funded activist groups to block the wall, and keep the flow of illegal aliens and drugs coming, will be stopped.”
The case is Rio Grande International Study Center v. Trump, No. 1:19-cv-0720 (D.D.C.).
For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]
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