The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision on Friday permitting Democrats in Congress to challenge President Donald Trump’s use of Department of Defense funds for the construction of the US-Mexico border wall.
The House of Representatives originally filed the lawsuit alleging that the Trump administration violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution in April of 2019. The lawsuit alleged that the “expenditure of unappropriated funds disregards the separation of powers and usurps Congress’s exclusive authority under the Appropriations Clause to control federal funds.” House Democrats argued that Trump’s executive actions to re-appropriate funds in order to pay for his border wall project greatly undermined Congress’s power of the purse.
The district court originally held that the House Democrats did not have standing to challenge the President’s executive decisions. However, the three-judge panel in the Circuit Court reversed the ruling, finding that “the House is individually and distinctly injured because the Executive Branch has allegedly cut the House out of its constitutionally indispensable legislative role.” With direct injury to the House of Representatives by undermining its constitutionally-granted powers, the appeals court found that the House of Representatives had standing to challenge Trump’s use of military funds.
Now that the House Democrats can prove direct injury and standing to bring their original lawsuit, the case will return to the district court for consideration.