On Friday morning, President Donald Trump announced that he would be declaring a state of emergency on the US-Mexico border and unilaterally appropriating funds to pay for his border wall.
ItвЂ™s not clear if he can actually do that: The Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the ultimate power to appropriate money. The president legally has the power to declare emergencies and respond, but can he do that in a situation where Congress has explicitly declined to fund the presidentвЂ™s wall?
According to Elizabeth Goitein, an expert on national security law, the answer is that he canвЂ™t вЂ” and TrumpвЂ™s attempt to do so constitutes a вЂњconstitutional crisis.вЂќ
Goitein is the co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan but liberal-leaning legal nonprofit. Her research focuses on balancing national security and constitutional rights, which makes her pretty well-positioned to evaluate the presidentвЂ™s claim. In a series of tweets, she made the case that declaring an emergency on the border constitutes a power grab that directly threatens the constitutional order.
HereвЂ™s the argument, which focuses not only on Trump but on the underlying laws that enable him to declare an emergency in the first place:
One thing is practically certain: GoiteinвЂ™s arguments will be tested in court. Someone will try to sue Trump to stop the emergency declaration; House Democrats already have a plan for a legal challenge, per the Washington Post. Then itвЂ™ll be up to the courts to decide if sheвЂ™s right.
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