DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – President Donald Trump said Thursday he would “almost definitely” declare a national emergency if Democrats won’t agree to fund his proposed border wall or barrier along the southern border.
SMU Constitutional Law Professor Dale Carpenter said there are 123 different provisions of federal law providing the President some kind of emergency power. “The President has a lot of authority, especially in the area of immigration that has been granted by Congress to do a variety of things.”
Carpenter said they include the National Emergencies Act Congress passed in 1976.
The President would be able to declare an immigration emergency, which would allow him to build the wall or barrier by spending money from the Defense Department that’s not already allocated for a certain program.
Carpenter said Democrats could challenge the President in court, claiming the situation along the border is not really an emergency.
The case would eventually get to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It seems like an uphill battle for Democrats simply because the court is very reluctant to displace the judgment of the President on national security and immigration matters as we’ve previously seen,” said Carpenter.
The Democrats in the House could also vote against the President’s declaration, and then would have to convince the Republican majority in the Senate to do the same.
If so, Carpenter said, “It would face a veto by the President of the United States and then Congress could override conceivably the veto of the President only by a two-thirds vote in each of the houses. Highly unlikely.”
If the President declares a national emergency, SMU political science professor Cal Jillson says it would solve the immediate stalemate.
When asked if any side wins politically, Jillson said, “Well, I think the public wins because that will allow the government to be re-opened. It will allow both sides to claim that they won.”
Jillson said if the President faces a legal challenge, the case may be tied up in the courts and the administration may not be able to start work on the wall or barrier.