January 9, 2019
In 1952 during the Korean War, President Harry Truman declared a state of emergency and attempted to seize steel mills to pay for the war, the Supreme Court ruled that he needed the approval of Congress. Under the US constitution, spending power belongs in Congress but, while a President may wield emergency power, he can only do so when necessary.
For 19 days and counting, President Trump has shut down the US government over his desperate move to build a border wall that he promised Mexico would pay for. Unfortunately, some Republican members of Congress are willing to sit through a shut down that hurts Federal workers despite knowing the current situation is a manufactured crisis of the President’s own making.
In a last-minute ditch to draw his base, the President last night in a televised speech said nothing convincing but instead, went into his usual campaign mode with flawed statistics lacking factual basis to support why the nation is in a state of emergency that warrants a border wall. He is now threatening to use emergency power if Democrats are unwilling to budge on his demands.
While it is unclear how these all ends, the fact that the President is willing to declare a national emergency in a move to bypass Congress and build the wall without Congressional approval, is a grossly irresponsible constitutional position without precedence. By threatening to declare a state of emergency, Trump intends to divert funds appropriated for defense spending towards his border wall a risk no other President before him has taken.
If he followed through with his threats, the move would be met with constitutional challenges on whether the nation is indeed in a state of emergency that gives the President a right to use such emergency authority. For a White House already in crisis, Trump is deepening himself into more legal issues because at the end of the day, facts would show no such emergency exist despite the need for border security to which all Democrats agree.
For a Republican party known to campaign on unwavering support for the military, the fact that its own leader is willing to misappropriate money meant for the military for unrelated use is an anomaly the GOP would pay for come 2020. Also, by allowing the shut down to continue leaving Americans who live from paycheck to paycheck in limbo, shows Trump and his party are ready to sacrifice people’ pay and livelihood to satisfy a campaign promise.
This is a President in crisis. He has so many problems and now, he is fear mongering. By threatening such executive action is a way for Trump to save face, knowing the odds are against him. Democrats have one option, support border security but give no money for a border wall or risk fracturing your support.
Adeyemi Oshunrinade is an expert in general law, foreign relations and the United Nations. He is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment,’ ‘Criminal Law-Homicide’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available on Amazon. Follow on Twitter @san0670.