D.C. Judge Shuts Down Border-Fence Lawsuit

     (CN) – A federal judge in Washington, D.C., threw out a lawsuit aimed at stopping construction of a U.S.-Mexico border fence ordered by the Bush administration. U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said the Texas Border Coalition lacked standing to sue, because its members were not the affected property owners.

     The coalition of border mayors and business and community leaders alleged that the Department of Homeland Security unfairly negotiated with landowners and violated their rights while acquiring land for project, which included 660 miles of fencing and other barriers it intended to build along the border to help curb illegal immigation. With about 625 miles already built, the fence is set to be completed by the end of the year.
     The coalition said the government violated numerous laws and regulations, and claimed that the location of the fence was based on political factors and not “effective and practical considerations.” Judge Walton said there was not enough evidence to support the claim that some “politically connected” landowners’ property was unaffected.
     The judge said the coalition failed to cite any legal authority which would obligate the department to issue rules or instructions regarding negotiations between the government and property owners, such as how to arrive at a fixed price.
     He said it’s not the judicial branch’s duty to impose rulemaking obligations on federal agencies, but Congress’.
     Judge Walton added that the coalition or a similar organization has standing only if “its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right.” He went on to say that the plaintiff “has not demonstrated that any of its members have suffered or are actually likely to suffer any concrete injury, or that their alleged injury can be redressed through a favorable decision by this court.”
     Named defendants were the Department of Homeland Security; its secretary, Janet Napolitano; its acting executive director, Robert F. Janson; and Asset Management of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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