checks and balances
May 25, 2019

A federal judge in California issued a preliminary injunction on Friday temporarily blocking the government from constructing a wall in two sectors along the U.S.-Mexico border using funds diverted from the Defense Department, throwing a wrinkle into President Trump's national emergency declaration.

Construction was set to begin on Saturday, but the order — which applies specifically to two areas along the border near Yuma, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas, where a total of 51 miles of fencing was set to be built — will put that on hold. The construction of additional segments, announced too late for Friday's decision, will reportedly be taken up in June.

The judge, Haywood S. Gilliam, wrote that Congress' "absolute" control over federal funding is an "essential" feature of the United States government and that Trump's emergency declaration would "pose serious problems under the Constitution's separation of powers principles." The American Civil Liberties Union called the decision a "win for our system of checks and balances." Gilliam's ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition. Tim O'Donnell

December 19, 2017

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) gave Matthew Spencer Petersen, the Trump administration's nominee for the U.S. District Court judgeship for the District of Columbia, the grilling of a lifetime when Petersen appeared at a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing this past Thursday. Video of their conversation — which saw Petersen repeatedly professing ignorance of basic legal concepts — promptly went viral, and Petersen withdrew from consideration Monday.

Also Monday, Kennedy said in an interview that President Trump called on Saturday to thank him for exposing Petersen's judicial deficiencies. "The president and I get along fine, and he has told me, he said, 'Kennedy, when some of my guys send somebody over who's not qualified, you do your job,'" Kennedy recalled. "And I said, 'Thank you, Mr. President.' And I intend to do that."

Petersen is "really smart" and a "decent guy," Kennedy added, but "just because you've seen My Cousin Vinny doesn't qualify you to be a federal judge. And he has no litigation experience, and my job on the Judiciary Committee is to catch him. I would strongly suggest he not give up his day job." Bonnie Kristian

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