New York, New Jersey, Connecticut join lawsuit over Trump's emergency declaration

Now that 16 states have filed their lawsuit challenging the president's emergency declaration, the scene is set for what will be a lengthy court battle over the fate of the border wall.

President Trump is predicting an easy victory in a case that's anything but simple. He said he has an "absolute right" to declare a national emergency.

"I actually think we might do very well even in the 9th Circuit because it's an open-and-closed case," Trump said.

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are among the 16 states arguing in San Francisco federal court that no emergency exists, citing the president's own words from last Friday when he said, "I could do the wall over a longer period of time—I didn't need to do this—but I'd rather do it much faster."

But Professor Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law said that those comments may be beside the point.

"It's probably not going to be about his individual statements so much as whether these specific statutes he's using and the specific authorities he's claiming he's able to access in a time of emergency actually support seizing private property, building a fence, and taking all the steps he's planning to take," Vladeck said.

The lawsuit tackles that, too, challenging the administration's intention to use $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund; up to $2.5 billion under the Department of Defense funds transferred for support for counterdrug activities; and up to $3.6 billion reallocated from Department of Defense military construction projects under the president's declaration of a national emergency.

"All of us believe that it would be harmful for our citizens to have more than $8 billion taken away from the projects and services that we expect our taxpayer dollars to be used for," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.

But on Friday, Trump predicted he'd prevail as he did last summer with his travel ban.

"We'll end up in the Supreme Court and then hopefully we'll get a fair shake," Trump said, "and we'll win in the Supreme Court just like the ban."

Vladeck, though, said neither side should be too sure how this case will shake out.

"We're in uncharted waters and anyone who thinks they know how this is going to end has something to sell us," Vladeck said.

The questions in the case aren't just about who is right on the Constitution, but also whether any of the states suing the president have yet been injured by his action.