“This use of executive action is part of the core duties of the president — to protect the borders of our country. In doing so, he properly invoked power that Congress expressly granted him to deal with a national crisis.”
Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration is constitutional
By Attorneys General Ken Paxton, Curtis Hill, and Jeff Landry
March 14, 2019
President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration is a proper use of executive power to protect our country’s borders and keep Americans safe. Unfortunately, the crisis at the southern border is one that only the federal government may truly solve. With no solutions coming from Congress, the president is faithfully executing the duties of his office by invoking a law Congress already passed: the National Emergencies Act (NEA).
In declaring a state of emergency pursuant to the NEA, President Trump is using pre-existing statutory authority to address a legitimate crisis created by lawless conduct at and beyond our southern border. This emergency declaration is not a case of the president relieving himself of restrictions under the law. To the contrary, our president is protecting our country’s borders through means contemplated by Congress and used many times by past presidents for matters less directly threatening than those present on the southern border.
The NEA gives the president broad authority. In fact, Congress did not define “national emergency” in the NEA, leaving it entirely at the president’s discretion to determine what constitutes such an emergency. But any president who makes such a declaration must tell Congress the statutory authority upon which he is relying, as President Trump has done here. The president’s action is neither new nor extraordinary.
As state attorneys general, we are the chief legal officers of our states, with the duty to defend our sovereigns from federal overreach. We have been quick to challenge executive actions that exceed the president’s lawful authority.
President Trump’s emergency declaration to address the crisis at the southern border is much different than the kinds of executive action we challenged in the past. Unlike President Barack Obama, who unlawfully used executive power to create new laws or rewrite laws Congress enacted, President Trump is lawfully using executive power to address a crisis worsened by congressional inaction. That is a stark difference but not the only one: This use of executive action is part of the core duties of the president — to protect the borders of our country. In doing so, he properly invoked power that Congress expressly granted him to deal with a national crisis.
The facts matter — these facts show the president has acted lawfully and within the scope of discretion Congress and the people vested in him. Congress should support President Trump.