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Case Name Sierra Club v. Trump PR-CA-0006
Docket / Court 4:20-cv-01494 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU of Northern California
Case Summary
On February 15, 2019, President Trump issued an executive order, Proclamation 9844, declaring a national emergency concerning the southern border of the United States. Following Proclamation 9844, Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition filed this suit on February 28, 2020 against ... read more >
On February 15, 2019, President Trump issued an executive order, Proclamation 9844, declaring a national emergency concerning the southern border of the United States. Following Proclamation 9844, Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition filed this suit on February 28, 2020 against President Trump and his administration on its own behalf and on behalf of its 825,000 members in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Sierra Club is a national nonprofit organization that advocates for environmental education and wildlife protection. Southern Border Communities Coalition is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that brings together 60 organizations from California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas to promote policies and solutions that improve the quality of life in border communities. Represented by the ACLU, ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Texas, and the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program, the plaintiffs alleged that President Trump’s administration sought to unlawfully divert billions of dollars appropriated for the military towards the border wall project, despite Congress having appropriated only $1.375 billion on any border barrier construction in fiscal year 2020, per Congress’s Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020.

The plaintiffs sued the President, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and the acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security under the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. §4332), the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. §§701–706), the All Writs Act (28 U.S.C. §1651), and the Declaratory Judgments Act (28 U.S.C. §2201), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs argued that the President unlawfully declared a national emergency in an attempt to circumvent Congress’s exclusive control over appropriation, following Congress’s consideration and rejection of the President’s requests for billions of dollars in wall funding with the passing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020. In doing so, the plaintiffs argued that the President violated the separation of powers, given that the Constitution vests all powers of appropriations exclusively in Congress. Furthermore, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated the National Environmental Policy Act, because they failed to review the environmental impacts of the border wall construction project, per the regulations required and outlined in NEPA. Finally, the plaintiffs alleged that defendants' decisions to transfer military funds to wall construction constitute a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act because it was contrary to the Constitution and in excess of statutory authority.

The case was initially assigned to Magistrate Judge Laurel Beele, but quickly reassigned to Judge Haywood S. Gilliam. Jr. Judge Gilliam ordered the case related to
Sierra Club v. Trump, a similar case challenging 2019 appropriations.

On April 13, 2020, the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition filed a partial motion for summary judgment, arguing that the Trump administration's use of 10 U.S.C. § 284 to divert military funding to the construction of the border wall was unlawful. The motion detailed that, similar to the court's holding in Sierra Club v. Trumpi, 379 F. Supp. 3d 883 (N.D. Cal. 2019), the President's administration could not use transfer authorities to fund a border wall that Congress considered and rejected. The defendants responded with a partial motion for summary judgment in opposition to the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition, arguing that the plaintiffs' recreational and aesthetic interests fall outside the zone of interests of §8005 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Furthermore, the defendants' motion argued that §8005 authorized the transfer of funds by the Department of Defense and that the administration's use of 10 U.S.C. § 284 to divert funding for Counter-Drug purposes was lawful.

Meanwhile, on April 16, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives submitted an amicus brief outlining their compelling interest in this case. The brief was filed in support of the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment and requested that the court enjoin the President's administration from spending billions more than Congress appropriated for border wall construction.

While the cross-motions for summary judgment were still pending, the nation elected a new President in November 2020. Upon taking office on January 20, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order, Proclamation 10142, terminating the national emergency declared by Proclamation 9844. President Biden’s order further directed that officials pause work on the construction of the southern border wall and develop a plan to redirect funds and repurpose contracts.

In light of Proclamation 10142, on January 21, 2021, Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. directed both parties in this suit to file a joint status report regarding the effect President Biden's executive order has on the case and the pending motions for summary judgment. The joint status report was due February 16, 2021. As of February 5, 2021, the case is pending further updates.

Dina Akhmetshina - 02/05/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Immigration/Border
Border wall
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Mandamus, 28 U.S.C. § 1361
Defendant(s) President of the United States
Secretary of Defense
Secretary of Homeland Security
Plaintiff Description The Sierra Club and the Southwest Border Communities Coalition
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU of Northern California
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 02/28/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PR-CA-0003 : State of California v. Trump (N.D. Cal.)
PR-CA-0004 : Sierra Club v. Trump (N.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Proclamation on the Termination Of Emergency With Respect To The Southern Border Of The United States And Redirection Of Funds Diverted To Border Wall Construction
WhiteHouse.org
Date: Jan. 20, 2021
By: Joseph Biden
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Cal.
02/17/2021
4:20-cv-01494-HSG
PR-CA-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Cal.
02/28/2020
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PR-CA-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Gilliam, Haywood Stirling Jr. (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Donatti, David A. (Texas) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-0001 | PR-CA-0006-9000
Hafetz, Jonathan L. (New York) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-0001
Jadwat, Omar C. (New York) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-0001
Ladin, Dror (New York) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-0001 | PR-CA-0006-9000
Lee, Mollie M. (California) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-0001 | PR-CA-0006-9000
Narayan, Sanjay (California) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-0001 | PR-CA-0006-9000
Segura, Andre (Texas) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-0001
Shamsi, Hina (New York) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-0001
Smith, Gloria D. (California) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-0001 | PR-CA-0006-9000
Talla, Vasudha (California) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-9000
Wang, Cecillia D (California) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-0001 | PR-CA-0006-9000
Zafar, Noor (New York) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-0001 | PR-CA-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Warden, Andrew Irwin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-9000
Other Lawyers Letter, Douglas (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-CA-0006-9000

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