Donald Trump

Trump Mocks California Bullet Train Boondoggle in Slamming 16 States’ National Emergency Suit

Trump has exhibited a "flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles engrained in the United States Constitution," the suit reads.

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Polaris/Newscom

President Donald Trump shot back today at the 16 states who have filed a lawsuit over his use of a national emergency declaration to obtain funds for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who's spearheading the suit, filed it yesterday in federal court. The states of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Virginia are co-plaintiffs.

In a tweet this morning, Trump took particular aim at California, mocking the state over Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement last week that the scope of the state's bullet train project would be widely reduced.

"As I predicted, 16 states, led mostly by Open Border Democrats and the Radical Left, have filed a lawsuit in, of course, the 9th Circuit!" Trump wrote. Trump's displeasure with the Ninth Circuit stems from that federal appeals court's liberal reputation. The lawsuit in question was actually filed in a trial court, the U.S. District Court for Northern District of California, though an appeal would likely be heard in the Ninth Circuit Court.

"California, the state that has wasted billions of dollars on their out of control Fast Train, with no hope of completion, seems in charge!" Trump added. In a follow-up post, he claimed that "the failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!"

Trump is right to criticize California's bullet train boondoggle. The high-speed rail system, which would have connected San Francisco to Los Angeles, was originally supposed to cost $33 billion. As Reason's Scott Shackford noted last week, the estimated cost has since ballooned to $77 billion, and it likely would have exceeded $100 billion had the project been completed.

That's considerably more expensive (though not "hundreds of times more so") than Trump's wall, at least when you consider the amount of money that's currently being allocated toward the border barrier. Trump had demanded $5.7 billion in funding from Congress for the wall. When he only received $1.375 billion, he took executive action to get more. The administration's reported plan is to take $600 million from the Treasury Department's asset forfeiture fund, as well as $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense's drug interdiction fund. Through the use of his national emergency declaration, Trump also plans to reallocate $3.5 billion from the Pentagon's military construction budget.

Trump's getting roughly $8 billion for his wall, though the barrier will end up costing much more. Reason's Eric Boehm has pointed out that construction alone could cost around $28 billion, while maintenance costs over the first decade could exceed $48 billion.

Becerra's lawsuit, meanwhile, claims Trump has exhibited a "flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles engrained in the United States Constitution."

"Contrary to the will of Congress, the President has used the pretext of a manufactured 'crisis' of unlawful immigration to declare a national emergency and redirect federal dollars appropriated for drug interdiction, military construction, and law enforcement initiatives toward building a wall on the United States-Mexico border," the suit reads. "This includes the diversion of funding that each of the Plaintiff States receive." It also claims that "the construction of a wall along California's and New Mexico's southern borders will cause irreparable environmental damage to those States' natural resources."

So do the plaintiffs stand any chance? That remains to be seen. "It's not a slam dunk for them," Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet told The Wall Street Journal. "But there's a decent chance they will ultimately prevail."

Trump may have hurt his own cause during a press conference Friday in which he officially announced he was declaring a national emergency. "I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this. But I'd rather do it much faster," he told NBC's Peter Alexander.

Becerra's suit seemed to allude to those comments. "By the President's own admission, an emergency declaration is not necessary," the suit reads, noting that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) "data show that unlawful entries are near 45-year lows" and that "the State Department recognizes there is a lack of credible evidence that terrorists are using the southern border to enter the United States."

The fact that 16 states would sue the Trump administration over the national emergency declaration is not surprising. In his remarks Friday, Trump acknowledged his administration would likely be sued, but predicted that just as the Supreme Court upheld his travel ban, it will rule in his favor on this issue as well. "Sadly, we'll be sued and sadly it will go through a process and happily we'll win," he said.

We'll see if that's the case. David Bier, an immigration policy analyst for the Cato Institute, told Reason last month: "My belief is that the president can get away with doing almost anything he wants in the name of national security." That may be true. But only time will tell how the courts feel.

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39 responses to “Trump Mocks California Bullet Train Boondoggle in Slamming 16 States’ National Emergency Suit

  1. The lawsuit in question was actually filed in a trial court, the U.S. District Court for Northern District of California, though an appeal would likely be heard in the Ninth Circuit Court.

    This is silly nitpicking. The U.S. District Court for Northern District of California is in the Ninth Circuit. President Trump was perfectly correct.

    1. It is not nitpicking – it is just plain wrong and perhaps a deliberate falsehood.

      1. The 9th Circuit is a short hand term for every federal court within the states covered by the Circuit. If the author doesn’t know that, he shouldn’t be writing about legal issues at all. But, you are likely right that it is just a deliberate lie.

        1. Anything Trump does, you will find some wiggle room to justify it.
          You weren’t nearly as accommodating with Obama.

          Consistency, they name is John the Consistently Inconsistent.

          1. yeah, I never called the 9th Circuit the 9th Circuit until TRUMP!! you called it dude.

          2. Wiggle room? Are you really this dense? The appeals court the author is referring to is The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. N.B. “for the Ninth Circuit.” The Ninth Circuit are all the courts under jurisdiction of that appeals court. Thus, the district court under which the suit was filed was in the Ninth Circuit. Trump said “…in, of course, the Ninth Circuit!”

        2. Trump said it that way because it really does not matter what federal district court the actual civil action is filed in, because the 9th Circuit will side with the claims.

          In other words, the 9th Circuit is a Lefty bastion of corrupt judges who refuse to follow the US Constitution.

      2. They filed in the 9th Circuit, which also has a bunch of federal district courts, and is under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the United States.

        All true.

  2. Haha. 16 states wasting taxpayer money with Trump but never sued any of the other Presidents that used this National Emergency law enacted by Congress.

    1. Trump lovers are as consistently statist as Obama lovers.

      No principles. Different principals.

      Fuck off, slavers.

      1. Poor alphabet troll wants responses. craves responses.

        Its script cannot compute that border security is principled.

        Thanks Trump!

    2. Not wasted. Most politically-led spending (D and R) is for virtue signaling and vote buying. Since it keeps happening, it must be effective.

      1. Not necessarily. It might be that there are simply no consequences for doing it, effective or not.

  3. As if court shopping is not a thing and the 9th Circuit and the courts under it are not the most friendly to progressives, as well as the most overturned by SCOTUS.

  4. Border control is an entirely federal issue. I don’t see how states could have any standing to sue over federal reprograming of funds to enhance border security. These suits are going nowhere and are just publicity stunts.

    1. That assumes the courts follow the law and are not enforcing their policy preferences, like many of the injunctions against previous policies that POTUS had the constitutional and statutory authority to make.

      1. True. You can get a district judge who is enough of a hack to do anything. But even in the 9th Circuit, it won’t stand up to appeal. The 9th Circuit is thanks to Trump much more conservative than it was.

    2. I have to agree with you on that – the argument that this money would otherwise go to the states could be used to justify standing on the part of the states for virtually anything the federal government spends money on and the argument that the states’ borders are affected neglects the fact that the border is also a national border. So it seems their standing to sue at all is rather doubtful, but of course it’s the Ninth* so we all know how they’re going to rule.

      *The Ninth has a “liberal reputation”? I suppose if you think Pol Pot had a “dictatorial reputation”.

    3. Agreed about the federal priority.

      But what percentage of the wall is a publicity stunt?

    4. California and New Mexico maybe possibly with the consideration that its their citizens who will be subject to land being appropriated via eminent domain

      Of course the individual affected landowners could do that just as well do that themselves individually or as a group.

    5. California and New Mexico maybe possibly with the consideration that its their citizens who will be subject to land being appropriated via eminent domain

      Of course the individual affected landowners could do that just as well do that themselves individually or as a group.

  5. maintenance costs over the first decade could exceed $48 billion.

    Citation needed. Are contractors scrubbing graffiti off with toothbrushes, or what?

    1. Giant space lizards will be trampling the wall every 2 weeks.

    2. Who knew illegal immigrants were that destructive. Whew, it’s a good thing were building a wall then.

  6. only time will tell how the courts feel.

    There’s that f-word again.

  7. California and New Mexico are the only states on the border. Why are the rest of these states involved beyond democrat party politics?
    Didn’t the courts tell Arizona to piss off when they wanted to enforce Federal Immigration control?

  8. “The President may have hurt his chances” talk is just dumb. Courts aren’t late night comedians or silly political pundits (well, many of them are, which is why this will eventually go to the Supreme Court like the travel ban did). Ultimately they don’t decide these things based on off-the-cuff remarks. They prefer facts and laws.

  9. Is there anything the U. S. can do to have this suit heard directly by the U. S. Supreme Court, rather than by a lower federal court?

  10. Do they have standing?

  11. Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Virginia

    So California and New Mexico are the only states in that list on the border with Mexico. Meanwhile, AZ and Texas are NOT. So Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii and Maine have standing to sue about a national emergency declaration at the southern border? WTF?

    Frankly, at this point, I don’t give a rat’s ass if a wall, or a fence or a giant fucking moat was built. Or if we don’t build anything. And I do tend to think that the national emergency declaration might be a little extreme.

    But this literally has nothing to do with most of those states. At all. And if this is an issue with separation of powers, it is ENTIRELY between Federal branches.

    I have an idea: Let’s build a wall at the Texas border and at the AZ border. And expand the walls inwards about 100 miles. Meanwhile tear down every barrier to entry along the CA and NM borders. I wonder if all the lefties would like it then?

    1. Too bad it wasn’t a state vote.

      16 states against border security emergency. 34 states for it.

      National Emergency wins!

  12. I agree that there is no “emergency” and that the scope of “emergency” power needs to be reduced as inconsistent with the separation of powers. But I wonder, how many of these blue state converts to the separation of powers doctrine felt the same way when Obama used his “pen and phone” when Congress “failed” to give him what he wanted?

    I hope against hope that a consensus will ultimately arise to restore the separation of powers regardless of the parties in power.

  13. “that construction alone could cost around $28 billion, while maintenance costs over the first decade could exceed $48 billion.”

    That’s a bullshit figure for maintenance costs. A complete bullshit figure. That’s 15% of construction costs. Which is a figure more typical of a building that has running systems and utilities. It’s an absurd figure for a wall.

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  15. See! Illegal immigration is a National Emergency. It affects at least 16 states.

    Thank you Trump for rolling back some Lefty policies.

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