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Constitution expert analyzes President Trump’s national emergency declaration

Posted at 4:40 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-18 17:44:03-05

BILLINGS – President Donald Trump declared a national emergency last week to fund building a wall on the southern border of the U.S.

A former University of Montana constitutional law professor said the President may not have authority under the National Emergency Powers Act, but might under the U.S. Constitution.

According to Rob Natelson, former professor and now a senior fellow at the Independence Institute in Denver, a president needs to reference another law.

He said a president needs to cite a specific statute, under which these are the conditions that the president may call for an emergency.

The U.S. Constitution gives the president authority to defend an invasion, according to Natelson.

He said that President Trump may have a better argument under the Constitution.

“The government of the United States does have the responsibility to repel that invasion,” Natelson said. “But it’s unclear whether the courts would permit the president to do it alone without the support of Congress. One way to make sure this national emergency passes muster under the National Emergencies Act would be to issue a supplemental declaration, saying ‘I am citing this particular law.’ But he’s got to find a specific statute.”

In his proclamation on Friday, President Trump cited the Ready Reserve statute in the U.S. Code and parts of the National Emergency Powers Act.

But Natelson said he did not cite specific emergency statutes.

Story by David Jay, MTN News