A demonstrator holds a sign during an Indivisible Ohio protest against President Trump's national emergency declaration to build a wall along the United States southern border on Monday, February 18 in Columbus, Ohio. [Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch]

Sierra Club, ACLU challenge Trump national emergency declaration as unconstitutional

The Sierra Club and a coalition of border community organizations sued President Donald Trump in federal court in San Francisco Tuesday to challenge his declaration of a national emergency to divert federal funding to border wall construction.

The lawsuit by the Oakland-based Sierra Club and more than 60 organizations along the southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas borders was filed by American Civil Liberties Union lawyers.

A similar lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Francisco Monday by California and 15 other states. The lawsuits name several other administration officials as well as Trump as defendants.

Both cases claim Trump’s declaration Friday is unconstitutional because it intrudes on Congress’s exclusive authority to appropriate money.

The two lawsuits also contend Trump’s action violates the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires a study and an opportunity for public comment on actions affecting the environment.

The Sierra Club lawsuit claims, “Construction of President Trump’s wall will have devastating effects on the environment,” allegedly potentially harming 100 endangered, threatened or rare plant and animal species.

Both lawsuits allege that a lack of an emergency is shown by a comment Friday in which Trump said, “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do this much faster.”

Trump declared the national emergency on Friday, the same day he signed a congressional budget bill allocating $1.375 billion for border
barriers. He said he plans to draw another $6.7 billion for wall construction from military construction and military counter-drug funds and Treasury Department forfeitures.

Two other lawsuits filed by environmental groups and three Texas landowners are pending in federal court in San Francisco.

-Julia Cheever, Bay City NewsCaliforniaPoliticsUS

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Dave Smith, of Lancaster, wears a button showing his opinion during an Indivisible Ohio protest against President Trump's national emergency declaration to build a wall along the United States southern border on Monday, February 18 in Columbus, Ohio. [Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch]

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