The Trump administration does not have the authority to use military funding to pay for construction of a border wall, a federal appeals court panel ruled on Friday.
In a 2-1 ruling, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel found that diverting $2.5 billion Congress had appropriated for the military violated the Constitution and is unlawful.
The executive branch “lacked independent constitutional authority to authorize the transfer of funds,” the ruling said. “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.’ Therefore, the transfer of funds here was unlawful.”
The decision upheld a ruling by a federal judge in California who last year found that the Trump administration’s funding scheme was against the law. A coalition of states led by California had filed suit to block the move.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra praised the appeals court’s ruling.
“Today, the court reminded the president — once again — that no one is above the law,” Becerra said. “We applaud the court for taking action to immediately halt Trump’s unlawful money grab.”
The administration commandeered the military money last year after Congress refused to appropriate money for the wall. The president declared a national emergency at the border in order to access the money from the Pentagon.
The U.S. district court judge, Haywood S. Gilliam Jr., found the administration failed to prove the money was needed for “unforeseen military requirements.”
The appeals court agreed, noting problems with drug smuggling at the border is “a long standing problem” and not “unanticipated or unexpected.”
In his dissent, Judge Daniel Collins disagreed, saying the administration had the authority to use the money.
Because a Republican appointed judge will sign off on anything that a Republican does these days.
This case will be appealed to the Supreme Court. It won’t be heard until next year.