By Jon Dougherty
Though every president in the modern age has been given discretion in the vast military budget to use certain non-earmarked funds for whatever purposes he deemed necessary, when Donald Trump tries to do the same thing, suddenly it’s ‘unconstitutional.’
Or, at least, that’s what one federal judge appointed by the least constitutional president in history, Barack Obama, says.
On Friday U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam, Jr. blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to use about $6 billion in Pentagon funds that have already been approved by Congress for construction of sections of new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
His order applies to two high-priority projects to replace 51 miles of fence in two areas on the Mexican border, The Associated Press reports.
The AP added:
Gilliam issued the ruling after hearing arguments last week in two cases. California and 19 other states brought one lawsuit; the Sierra Club and a coalition of communities along the border brought the other. His ruling was the first of several lawsuits against Trump’s controversial decision to bypass the normal appropriations process to pay for his long-sought wall.
Gilliam, an appointee of President Barack Obama, said the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on arguments that the president was wrongly ignoring Congress’ wishes.
“Congress’s ‘absolute’ control over federal expenditures_even when that control may frustrate the desires of the Executive Branch regarding initiatives it views as important_is not a bug in our constitutional system. It is a feature of that system, and an essential one,” he wrote in his 56-page opinion.
You’ll note that AP had to spin this in a way that misleads readers into believing that POTUS Trump is attempting to be ‘lawless’ again — “ignoring Congress’ wishes.”
Left out of the AP report — either intentionally, because political bias, or because the reporter has no interest in learning about how Congress allocates funding to the Defense Department…because political bias — is the fact that Congress has already authorized the funds that the president was going to use to build the wall (a national security project if ever there was one). Congress may not have ‘wished’ that he use those non-earmarked funds for a border wall, but that doesn’t mean he’s violating the law, the Constitution, or separation of powers by doing so because, again, the funds were properly authorized by the Legislative Branch.
And they were non-earmarked, meaning they were not specifically approved by Congress for specific uses. That means the funds can be used at the president’s discretion.
We don’t doubt that the administration will prevail in this case, but it’s just another example of how Left-wing activist judges appointed by the most Left-wing activist president ever are usurping power from the Executive Branch in a way that the Constitution does not provide for and that the founders never intended.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10