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Alvarez and others v Trump and others

15 February 2019

United States District Court for the District of Columbia 

This matter concerns the lawfulness of the declaration of a national emergency by the President of the United states of America, Donald Trump. As part of the declaration of the natonal emergency, Mr trump appropriated to himself the powers to take or direct to take emergency actions that included the construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico and to access the necessary funds for constructing the wall.

Mr Trump’s action was challenged by landowners on the border who would be affected by the border wall construction as well as the Frontera Audubon Society, a non-profit environmental organisation whose members’s ability to view wildlife would be impaired by the construction of the wall and the resulting destruction of critical habitat for various species and the hampering of migratory routes for other species, such as butterflies.

The Court found for the plaintiffs. It reasoned that, under the United states Constitution, which is built on the principle of separation of powers, a disagreement between the President and Congress about how to spend money does not constitute an emergency authorizing unilateral executive action.

Download the judgment 

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Section 24of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

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