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RI, Mass Evaluating Whether To Join Multi-State Suit Against Trump Administration


Rhode Island and Massachusetts are evaluating whether to join 16 states, including Connecticut, suing over President Trump’s use of an emergency declaration to steer billions of dollars to building a border wall.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha said his office is reviewing whether to join the suit filed Monday by California officials.

“The reason the lawsuit was filed as I understand it – and again we’re still evaluating it – is because it anticipates harm to individual states,” Neronha said, “and so I want to make sure I understand the scope of any harm to Rhode Island before I add my voice to this litigation.”

In a statement, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said the president’s declaration of a national emergency “to build a wall repeatedly rejected by Congress is an illegal power grab by President Trump and a violation of the constitutional separation of powers.”

“My team has been in contact with the multi-state group and is working to determine the full scope and impact on Massachusetts so that, if and when we challenge the administration’s actions, we bring the strongest possible case,” Healey said.

Neronha said one consideration for him is the best allocation of the resources in his office.

“I have things I want to do right here in Rhode Island, specific things I want to do right here in Rhode Island, around consumer issues or environmental issues or other things I’ve spoken about for a long time,” Neronha said. “And to the the extent that our resources are being deployed nationally, then I want to make sure that I’m using my resources in the right way.”

Unlike most states, Rhode Island lacks district attorneys, and the AG’s office prosecutes criminal cases throughout the state.

California officials filed suit against the Trump administration Monday.

“In the complaint, the coalition alleges that the Trump Administration’s emergency declaration and diversion of funds is unconstitutional and otherwise unlawful,” according to California AG Xavier Becerra. “The states seek to block the Trump Administration’s emergency declaration, the unauthorized construction of the border wall, and any illegal diversion of Congressionally-appropriated funds.”

Rhode Island AG Peter Neronha during a recent news conference.
Rhode Island AG Peter Neronha during a recent news conference.