Environmental groups and the state of California argue the federal government does not have the right to waive a host of environmental laws to build prototypes and replace 17 miles of border wall in San Diego County.
Plaintiffs said the administration is using waivers that were granted more than 10 years ago for a specific border wall project that is already complete.
“The waiver authority is not available, and it has essentially expired in this Mexican border fence construction that has already occurred, and it is unconstitutional,” said Brian Segee, of the Center for Biological Diversity.
The state argues border wall construction would do irreparable harm to wildlife.
Judge Gonzalo Curiel will preside over the border wall case in a San Diego courtroom.
Curiel became famous in 2016 when the judge was publicly criticized repeatedly over a period of months by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump for his handling of the Trump University lawsuit.
In this CNN interview on June 3, 2016, Trump reiterated charges that the Indiana-born Curiel’s heritage impacted his courtroom decisions.
“We are building a wall. He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico. The answer is, he is giving us very unfair rulings, rulings that people can't even believe. This case should have ended years ago in summary judgment,” Trump told interviewer Jake Tapper.
Curiel never responded to those attacks and Trump agreed to settle the Trump University case for $25 million.
Now, Curiel will have a chance to rule on a case that could impact Trump’s plans to build a wall where there currently isn’t one.