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Federal appeals court rules Trump illegally issued border wall funds

President Donald Trump makes a statement after taking a tour of border wall prototypes near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego County, Calif., on March 13, 2018. (K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

President Donald Trump illegally used Defense Department funds to build sections of border wall in California, Arizona and New Mexico, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled.

The appellate panel ruled Friday night that Trump sidestepped Congress’ authority to spend public funds, authorizing the transfer of $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s budget to be used in wall construction in El Centro in Imperial County, and in El Paso, Texas, Courthouse News reported. Congress had previously denied the funding.

California was among state and advocacy groups seeking to stop building along the southern border. The court ruled 2-1.

Trump violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, the judges ruled, when he declared a national emergency at the nation’s southern border as justification to move the funds from the defense budget following the 2018-2019 federal government shutdown.

“The panel concluded that the district court correctly determined that the border wall was not an unforeseen military requirement, and that funding for the wall had been denied by Congress,” Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Sidney Thomas, wrote in his opinion as reported by Courthouse News. “Absent such statutory authority, the Executive Branch lacked independent constitutional authority to transfer the funds at issue here.”

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