Here's what is likely next for Trump's national emergency declaration
WASHINGTON, D.C. - While the number of Senate Republicans opposing President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration was somewhat unexpected, Thursday’s vote was the latest step in a somewhat predictable political timeline regarding the controversial use of executive power. In all, a dozen of Trump’s traditional allies broke rank with both the party and the president.
“The problem I have is not the President’s will to spend this money, it’s the mechanism by which he’s doing it,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who was one of the twelve, ahead of the vote.
But the President’s veto Friday essentially ends the political pinball in which the declaration bounced from chamber to chamber in Congress and one branch of government to another. That’s partly because opponents of the declaration will have a tough time finding the votes – two-thirds of the House – required to override the veto.
“As President, the protection of the nation is my highest duty,” Trump said Friday afternoon during a televised veto-signing ceremony in the Oval Office, calling the resolution “reckless.” “This is definitely a national emergency. Rarely have we had such a national emergency.”
The veto is the first of Trump’s presidency. In short, now things turn to the courts.
Trump has expected a long legal battle ahead. He even outlined it himself when he declared the emergency last month.
“We will then be sued, and we’ll be sued in the Ninth Circuit even though it shouldn’t be there. We’ll possibly get a bad ruling, and then we’ll get another bad ruling, and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court; and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake,” Trump said during the news conference at the White House in February.
According to political analysts, that prediction is just about right.
“I think this will be fast-tracked the same way that the Muslim ban litigation was fast-tracked,” said Paul Schiff Berman, professor at The George Washington University’s Walter S. Cox School of Law.
So far, at least five lawsuits against the emergency declaration, including those from activist groups and a joint suit from nearly 20 states.
It’s unclear exactly how long the legal process would take, Berman noted. In some cases, such as the case involving the Trump administration’s ban on Muslims from certain countries entering the United States, legal proceedings may not begin for several more months. By the time a final decision is made, it could be a year or more.
But the decision made by the, often times, conservative-leaning U.S. Senate doesn’t necessarily spell out the ruling from a likely conservative-leaning Supreme Court should the case reach that level. There is a chance the national emergency could hold up in the courts as well, even at the highest level, Berman said.
“I could imagine a court saying ‘We think this is a bad idea, but Congress should write a statute that actually lists what counts as a national emergency. We can’t invent it for them’,” Berman said. “If that’s the case, they might actually allow this to stand.”