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Former UM constitution expert analyzes president’s national emergency

Posted at 3:19 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-18 18:26:15-05

BILLINGS – President Donald Trump declared a National Emergency last week to help secure funding to build a border wall.

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.

MT congressional delegation reacts to Trump’s emergency declaration
Rob Natelson, former professor and now a senior fellow at the Independence Institute in Denver, says a president needs to reference another law.

He adds that a president needs to cite a specific statute, under which these are the conditions that the president may call for an emergency.
Donald Trump National Emergency
President Donald Trump declaring a National Emergency on 2.15.19. (MTN News photo)

The U.S. Constitution gives the president authority to defend an invasion, according to Natelson who also told MTN News that 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,” he added.

President Trump cited the Ready Reserve statute in the U.S. Code and parts of the National Emergency Powers Act in his proclamation on Friday. But Natelson said he did not cite specific emergency statutes.

Reporting by David Jay for MTN News