The secretary of defense in September authorized the diverting of $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds to build the border wall, but on Tuesday, a federal judge in Texas blocked the Trump administration from doing that, CNN reports. El Paso County, Texas, and Border Network for Human Rights had sued after Mark Esper's September decision, arguing President Trump had overstepped his authority by declaring a national emergency in order to get access to more funds for the wall. They also argued the declaration doesn't actually meet the criteria for an "emergency" as defined by the National Emergencies Act. Judge David Briones of the US District Court for the Western District of Texas decided in their favor, ruling that the Trump administration doesn't have the authority to divert the military construction funds, which had been appropriated by Congress.
"The President's emergency proclamation was a blatant attempt to grab power from Congress. 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," said a lawyer for Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit that represented the plaintiffs, in a statement. The judge's ruling doesn't apply to the use of other funds that have been designated for construction of the wall; in July, for example, the Supreme Court OKed the use of $2.5 billion in other Department of Defense funds for wall construction. The Washington Post notes the Trump administration has allocated almost $10 billion for border wall construction, so Briones' decision impacts about a third of the total funds. The Trump administration is expected to appeal. (Read more border wall stories.)