Daniel Hemel on Trump's National Emergency in Slate

Nancy Pelosi Put Her Faith in the Courts to Stop Trump’s Emergency Wall

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday in order to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border. If he ultimately gets the wall he wants, it will only be because Democrats who control the House of Representatives let him have it.

Fortunately, the Constitution does not give the president unfettered authority to spend federal funds on his own pet projects. Instead, we have a finely crafted system of checks and balances. Unfortunately, that system of checks and balances doesn’t function when the actors who have the ability to check the president decline to use their power. By voting on Thursday to approve a budget deal without any explicit language barring the president’s end-run maneuver, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of her caucus decided not to exercise their check. Now, they can’t count on the courts to do it for them.

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