Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Calling Emergency Declaration a 'Patently Illegal Power Grab,' ACLU Sues Trump

"Because there is no emergency—only the one in President Trump's head for his own political purposes—he has violated our American laws."

Julia Conley

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, calling his declaration of a national emergency in order to fund a border wall unconstitutional. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump's prediction that he'll be taken to court over his national emergency declaration proved correct on Friday afternoon, with the ACLU announcing it would file one of several lawsuits against the Trump administration over the "blatantly illegal" move.

The organization noted in a statement that the president openly admitted the national emergency declaration, which he made to obtain funding for a wall at the southern U.S. border is unnecessary—bolstering the ACLU's case.

"By the president's very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency," said executive director Anthony Romero. "He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall 'faster.' This is a patently illegal power grab that hurts American communities and flouts the checks and balances that are hallmarks of our democracy."

Cecillia Wang, deputy legal director for the group, outlined how the president's declaration violates U.S. law in a video posted to Twitter.

"The president's action in declaring this bogus national emergency is...illegal and dangerously strikes at the heart of our democracy and our checks and balances because Congress has already enacted our laws that describe exactly when a president can declare a national emergency," said Wang. "Because there is no emergency—only the one in President Trump's head for his own political purposes—he has violated our American laws."

The ACLU is building a case arguing that Trump's use of the emergency declaration to evade Congressional funding rules is "unprecedented" as well as unconstitutional:

10 U.S.C. § 2808, the emergency power that Trump has invoked, cannot be used to build a border wall. Congress restricted the use of that power to military construction projects, like overseas military airfields in wartime, that "are necessary to support" the emergency use of armed forces.

The group plans to file the suit early next week, Romero said.

Other groups challenging Trump's action include Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), whose suit is aimed at obtaining documents related to the White House decision,and Public Citizen, suing on behalf of landowners and an environmental group located along the Texas border.

"Throughout history, autocrats have used so-called emergency powers to seize control from democratic systems that don't yield to their will. Often, they have invented fake crises for this purpose and we should all be extremely alarmed that President Trump has reached for this tool in the autocrat's toolkit." —Kristy Parker, Protect DemocracyProtect Democracy and the Niskanen Center are also filing a lawsuit on behalf of El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights, arguing that "there is no legal basis for issuing" an emergency declaration and accusing Trump of presiding over the country as an autocrat.

"Throughout history, autocrats have used so-called emergency powers to seize control from democratic systems that don't yield to their will," said Kristy Parker, co-counsel for the pending lawsuit. "Often, they have invented fake crises for this purpose and we should all be extremely alarmed that President Trump has reached for this tool in the autocrat's toolkit."

"Thankfully, our founders also knew that the seizing of legislative powers by the executive was, in the words of James Madison, 'the very definition of tyranny' and made it unlawful," she added. "It's unlawful here and we look forward to the courts upholding our framers' vision."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'This Is a War' for Democratic Party's Future, Says Sanders of AIPAC's Super PAC

"They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country," said the senator.

Julia Conley ·


Ginni Thomas Pressed Arizona Lawmakers to Reverse Biden's 2020 Win: Report

"Clarence Thomas' continued service on the Supreme Court is a scandalous and appalling breach of judicial ethics," said one observer. "He is implementing the exact same theories that his wife used to try to steal the 2020 election for Trump."

Brett Wilkins ·


Millions More Kids Going Hungry Since GOP, Manchin Killed Expanded Child Tax Credit

"Even brief disruptions in access to food can have lasting consequences," wrote the authors of a new analysis of worsening hunger among U.S. families.

Kenny Stancil ·


WHO to Convene Emergency Meeting on Monkeypox Outbreak

Leading public health experts plan to discuss the ongoing outbreak as the number of confirmed cases in the U.K. more than doubled on Friday to 20.

Kenny Stancil ·


Nearly 90,000 Small Businesses in US Expected to Close After Senate GOP Kills Main Street Relief Bill

"The fate of these small businesses," said one advocacy group, "will be tied to those senators who voted down this lifeline today."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo