CONSERVATION GROUPS CHALLENGE DHS WAIVER POWER AS UNCONSTITUTIONALArizona 01 Dec 2007 08:37 GMT
On November 1 several environmental organizations with offices in Arizona filed an amended complaint in U.S. district court which challenges as unconstitutional the Bush administration’s power to single-handedly waive any and all United States laws to continue construction of border wall segments in environmentally sensitive areas.
On October 10, U.S. District Court Judge Ellen S. Huvelle issued a temporary restraining order stopping border wall and road construction within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, saying that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the San Pedro area, hadn’t properly analyzed the impacts of the construction on wildlife and other natural resources, and that the agencies had failed to include the public in their decision-making process. DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff responded by invoking the REAL ID Act to waive 19 laws in order to resume construction of this particular wall segment - laws intended to protect wildlife and endangered species, clean water and air, safe drinking water, and cultural, historic and archeologically significant resources.
Under the REAL ID Act, Congress gave the DHS Secretary unrestricted power to waive any law—federal, state or local—that would otherwise apply to border wall and road construction. The groups’ amended complaint alleges that this unprecedented authority violates the fundamental separation of powers principles enshrined in the United States Constitution. They argue that by delegating the power to pick and choose which laws will apply to border wall construction, Congress has unconstitutionally given away its lawmaking responsibilities to a politically-appointed Executive branch official who is not accountable to the American public... read more>>>