President Trump talks with reporters after touring a section of the southern border wall in September in Otay Mesa, Calif.
Updated at 9:20 p.m. ET
A federal judge in Texas on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration from using $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds to pay for the construction of a wall on the southern border.
U.S. District Judge David Briones of El Paso, Texas, ruled the administration may not use an emergency proclamation to justify diverting funds to the border wall project after Congress had appropriated the money for other programs.
“The President’s emergency proclamation was a blatant attempt to grab power from Congress,” said Kristy Parker, counsel for Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization which represented the plaintiffs, in a statement. “Today’s order affirms that the President is not a king and that our courts are willing to check him when he oversteps his bounds.”
The suit was brought by El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights. It argued that the administration overstepped its authority by “declaring a national emergency and violating laws of Congress limiting funds for barriers at the United States-Mexico border.”
The county also argued that it would suffer reputational and economic harm from the border wall project because the president’s emergency declaration created the impression that the border city was dangerous. In October, Briones, a Clinton appointee, ruled that such claims had merit.
The judge’s ruling does not apply to funds originally set for other purposes, such as drug interdiction, that the administration has diverted for construction of the wall.
The White House says it will appeal the ruling.