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Sierra Club v. Trump

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
929 F.3d 670 (2019)


President Trump (codefendant) repeatedly requested billions to build a border wall. In 2018, Congress allocated $1.571 billion and rejected numerous requests for more. In December 2018, Trump declared he would not sign any bill without substantial funding for a barrier. Congress split over allocating $5.7 billion, resulting in a 35-day government shutdown. Trump signed 2019 appropriations including only $1.375 billion for border fencing, then declared a national emergency existed that authorized executive action to “reprogram” $8.1 billion pulled from elsewhere. The Department of Defense (DoD) authorized transferring $1 billion from Army personnel funds to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for fences, roads, and lighting in the three highest-priority drug-smuggling corridors. Congress disapproved the reprogramming, but DoD and DHS officials pressed forward with awarding construction contracts, and DoD reprogrammed another $1.5 billion. The Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition (plaintiffs) sued Trump and several cabinet members, arguing the expenditure violated the Appropriations Clause. The court agreed and enjoined the spending. Trump appealed, requesting an emergency stay of the injunction.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Clifton and Friedland, JJ.)

Dissent (Smith, J.)

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