May 17 (UPI) -- A California federal judge will hear the first of several court challenges Friday to President Donald Trump's effort to fund a border wall by declaring a national emergency, allowing him to take money from the Pentagon and other programs.
U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. will hear complaints in Oakland, Calif., filed by 19 states along the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing groups like the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition.
Trump declared a national emergency in February after Congress rejected his $5.7 billion request for border wall construction. Congress's refusal led to a 35-day partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.
Plaintiffs argue that by the president's own words, he used the emergency declaration to bypass the appropriation process of Congress, which violates the Constitution.
"There is no emergency requiring the use of the armed forces along the U.S.-Mexico border and construction of a border wall is not necessary to support such use of the armed forces," the lawsuit filed by the ACLU said.
The Trump administration argues that the president cited legal statutes to call for the national emergency, making Trump's impasse with Congress irrelevant.
"The statutory scheme leaves to the president the determination of whether a national emergency requires the use of the armed forces," government attorneys argue.
The Pentagon announced Wednesday it awarded more than $787 million combined in two contracts for border wall construction and replacement projects in California and Arizona as part of Trump's $5.7 billion request.
The Department of Homeland Security issued two waivers to speed up wall construction in the El Centro sectors of Arizona and California.