SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A San Diego-based federal judge whose credibility was once criticized by then-candidate Donald Trump over his Mexican heritage rejected an environmental challenge today to early elements of the president's proposed border wall.
In a 101-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel upheld federal environmental waivers that were granted for the construction of border wall prototypes in San Diego and the replacement of 18 miles of existing border fence in the San Diego and El Centro areas.
Curiel wrote that he ``does not have serious constitutional doubts'' about the waivers.
The judge noted that his decision was made separate from the ``heated political debate'' over the need for a border wall and the funding of such a project.
``In its review of this case, the court cannot and does not consider whether underlying decisions to construct the border barriers are politically wise or prudent,'' Curiel wrote. He went on to cite a quote from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, a ``fellow Indiana native,'' who said courts are designed to interpret the law, not make policy judgments, which are made by elected representatives.
``Here, the court will focus on whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged law and whether the Secretary of Department of Homeland Security properly exercised the powers delegated by Congress,'' Curiel wrote.
In 2016, Curiel's credibility came under fire from Trump in response to rulings Curiel had made in his handling of lawsuits against the presidential candidate's business-education program known as Trump University. Trump suggested that Curiel's Mexican heritage made him biased, given Trump's hard- line stances on immigration and criticism of Mexican immigrants.
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