Trump's use of Pentagon funds for US-Mexico border wall illegal, court rules

Source: The Hill | June 26, 2020 | John Kruzel

A federal appeals court in California on Friday ruled that the Trump administration’s use of Pentagon funding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is illegal.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that President Trump’s diversion of defense, military and other funding — billions of dollars that were not originally earmarked for border wall construction — violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, which gives Congress the exclusive power of the purse.

“These funds were appropriated for other purposes, and the transfer amounted to ‘drawing funds from the Treasury without authorization by statute and thus violating the Appropriations Clause,’ ” the majority wrote. “Therefore, the transfer of funds here was unlawful.”

Legal challenges arose early last year after Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border. Trump’s declaration sought to free up additional funding after a congressional spending bill allocated some $1.3 billion for border security, far short of the nearly $5 billion Trump said was needed to complete his signature project.

The 9th Circuit dispute is one of several lawsuits filed against the Trump administration over its emergency border wall funding. The court issued two related rulings on Friday, siding with California and more than a dozen states in one case, and private groups in another, all of whom challenged the administration’s move.

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