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Attorney General Becerra: Supreme Court Should Decline to Review Ruling Finding Diversion of $2.5 Billion to Build Trump Wall at Border Unlawful

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas today filed a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the Trump Administration’s petition for review in Trump, et al. v. California, et al. The Trump Administration seeks to overturn rulings by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that the transfer of approximately $2.5 billion — which Congress appropriated for Army personnel and other military purposes — to fund a border-wall construction project was unlawful. In the brief, Attorneys General Becerra and Balderas argue that the lower courts correctly held that the States have the right to challenge the $2.5 billion diversion and that the diversion was unlawful.  

“When the Trump Administration doesn’t get what it wants within the bounds of the law, it is far too eager to step outside of them,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The courts made the right decision in declaring the Trump Administration’s blatant theft of public funds unlawful. Congress could not have been clearer when it refused to fund a Trump wall. If only the President spent as much time on real emergencies – like the current pandemic or devastating wildfires – as he did on fabricated ones, the American people would be much better off.”

On February 15, 2019, President Trump contrived a national emergency as a pretext to justify redirecting congressionally-appropriated funds to pay to build a wall along the southern border after he failed to get Congress to pay for it. Three days later, on Presidents’ Day, Attorney General Becerra and California Governor Gavin Newsom challenged the unlawful diversion of funds, by filing a multistate lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. On June 28, 2019, the court granted in part California’s motion for partial summary judgment and found the Trump Administration’s diversion of funding for construction of a wall along the southern border to be unlawful. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later affirmed the district court's decision. 

The Trump Administration is now seeking review in the Supreme Court. In today’s filing, Attorneys General Becerra and Balderas urge the Court to deny this petition, arguing that the Trump Administration has not offered a persuasive argument for review and that the lower court judgments are correct on the merits.

Attorney General Becerra has led the charge against President Trump’s unlawful attempts to divert funding toward construction of a Trump wall. In a separate lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra challenged the Trump Administration’s diversion in the 2020 fiscal year of more than $3.8 billion in funds that Congress appropriated to the Department of Defense. More than 20 percent, $890 million, of those funds had been allocated to state National Guard units for the purchase of equipment critical to responding to natural disasters and other emergencies. Litigation in that case is ongoing.

A copy of the filing can be found here.