Trump Celebrates Judge He Once Called a ‘Hater’ After Winning Border Wall Case

The U.S. District judge whom Donald Trump criticized as biased during the 2016 presidential election cleared one major hurdle in the president's quest for a giant border wall, rejecting a California lawsuit that accused the massive project of flouting environmental regulations.

The president took to his favorite medium to celebrate on Tuesday, not mentioning the former dispute he had with U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel.

Trump followed that up with a Wednesday-morning tweet that said he would postpone building portions of the wall until “the whole wall is approved.” 

In his 100-page ruling, Curiel acknowledged the political maelstrom caused by the specter of a giant border wall but insisted that it was irrelevant to the legal process. California, a deep-blue state that has long drawn the ire of President Trump, had argued that the wall’s construction would jeopardize wildlife, violate federal environmental regulations and ruin the geographic integrity of the borderlands.

"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 in his decision

Curiel is the same U.S. judge who ruled against Trump in a separate lawsuit over the then-candidate’s fledgling university. In that case, Trump sounded off on the judge, suggesting Indiana-born Curiel must be biased against him because the judge has Mexican heritage. 

“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He's a hater," Trump infamously said at the time, drawing backlash from Republicans and Democrats alike.

Gonzalo Curiel President Donald Trump lashed out at Gonzalo Curiel during the 2016 election, drawing sharp criticism for what many interpreted as a racist remark. United States District Court for the Southern District of California

Despite what is inarguably a legal win for the Trump administration, the creation of the border wall is an arduous process for which Congress must still approve and allocate funding. The Tuesday ruling doesn’t mean that construction can now begin; it simply tosses aside one of many obstacles in its path. 

San Diego–based prototypes, which were a factor in the lawsuit, are still being tested. 

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a statement reiterating California’s opposition to the wall, noting that his office would be considering possible legal challenges to the ruling.

“We remain unwavering in our belief that the Trump Administration is ignoring laws it doesn’t like in order to resuscitate a campaign talking point of building a wall on our southern border,” he said in the statement. “A medieval wall along the U.S.-Mexico border simply does not belong in the 21st century.”

The Center for Biological Diversity, an organization that mounted the first legal challenge, issued a statement calling the wall “unconstitutional.”

"The Trump administration has completely overreached its authority in its rush to build this destructive, senseless wall,” said the center’s senior attorney Brian Segee. “They're giving unprecedented, sweeping power to an unelected agency chief to ignore dozens of laws and crash through hundreds of miles of spectacular borderlands.”