Federal judge whom Trump called ‘Mexican’ clears way for border wall

The federal judge once slammed by President Donald Trump as being a “Mexican” who was incapable of being impartial has sided with Trump in his bid to move ahead with construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel on Tuesday rejected arguments by the state of California and a coalition of environmental groups, who said the Trump administration had improperly ignored environmental laws in its push to build the wall.

Curiel said in his 101-page ruling that such decisions should be left to other branches of government, not the judiciary. He quoted U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in saying political matters "are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

Related: Who is Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel?

Curiel, who was nominated to the federal bench by President Barack Obama, made it clear his ruling centered on whether the administration had the authority to build a border wall, not on the wisdom of that decision. He described the "heated political debate" surrounding the project and added: "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."

23 PHOTOS
President Donald Trump's border wall prototypes
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President Donald Trump's border wall prototypes
A border patrol officer stands next to some of U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes as they near completion along U.S.- Mexico border in San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Federal agents patrol next to U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes as they near completion along U.S.- Mexico border in San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
One of U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes is pictured along U.S.- Mexico border near San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Seven of U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes are shown near completion along U.S.- Mexico border near San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
One of U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes is pictured along U.S.- Mexico border near San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Two of U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes are shown near completion along U.S.- Mexico border near San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A prototype for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico is seen behind the current border fence in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
A prototype for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico is seen in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
Prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico are shown near completion behind the current border fence, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border, in Tijuana, Mexico, October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
Three of U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes are shown near completion along U.S.- Mexico border in San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A prototype for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico is shown in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border, in Tijuana, Mexico, October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
Prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico are shown near completion in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border, in Tijuana, Mexico, October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
People work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
People work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
People work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
People work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
People (R) work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
People work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
Prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico are seen behind the current border fence in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico are seen behind the current border fence in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
A prototype for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico is seen in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
A prototype for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico is seen in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
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The case grew out a 1996 law, and its amendments, that gave the executive branch power to construct a wall in and near San Diego and to waive environmental review when "necessary to ensure expeditious construction."

The law also limited any federal court reviewing challenges to the construction to only consider Constitutional violations, not challenges based on the environmental laws.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly called for a waiver of the environmental reviews last August and the plaintiffs--California, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the Animal Legal Defense Fund all sued, saying the Kelly had overstepped his authority.

Experts provided declarations for California and the environmental groups, suggesting that the construction — on 15 miles of border in San Diego and another three miles near El Centro — could harm the Tijuana Estuary, along with rare, threatened and endangered species.

Curiel said the state and environmentalists did not meet the high threshold for holding up the construction: showing that Kelly had acted in excess of his powers.

The plaintiffs had argued that Trump’s Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act, by not properly consulting with California and other stakeholders on the environmental consequences of the construction in the Golden State.

Curiel agreed that the "belated contact with stakeholders reduces the practical benefit of the consultation process." But he said that the failures were not enough to show that Kelly and an interim director of Homeland Security had overstepped their authority.

“While unlimited judicial review would assure compliance with all legal requirements,” wrote Curiel, who sits on the U.S. District Court in San Diego, “it would defeat the purpose of the law to expedite the construction of border barriers and roads in areas where they are needed.

13 PHOTOS
Mexico US Border fence opened for families
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Mexico US Border fence opened for families
U.S. Border patrol agents open a single gate to allow families to hug and talk along the Mexico and U.S border in Tijuana, Mexico, November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
U.S. resident Brian Houston arrives to marry Evelia Reyes as Reyes' daughter Alexis looks on when U.S. Border patrol agents opened a single gate in the border wall to allow selected families short visits visit along the U.S. Mexico border at Border Field State Park in San Diego, California, U.S., November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A member of the U.S. Border patrol agent watches as she open a single gate to allow families to hug and converse along the Mexico and U.S border in Tijuana, Mexico, November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
U.S. resident Brian Houston marries Evelia Reyes as U.S. Border Patrol agents open a single gate in the border wall to allow selected families to visit along the U.S.-Mexico border at Border Field State Park in San Diego, California, U.S., November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. resident Brian Houston marries Evelia Reyes as U.S. Border Patrol agents open a single gate in the border wall to allow selected families to visit along the U.S.-Mexico border at Border Field State Park in San Diego, California, U.S., November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. resident Brian Houston marries Evelia Reyes as U.S. Border patrol agents open a single gate for in the border wall to allow selected families to visit along the U.S.-Mexico border at Border Field State Park in San Diego, California, U.S., November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. resident Brian Houston marries Evelia Reyes as U.S. Border patrol agents open a single gate to allow families to hug and converse along the Mexico and U.S border in Tijuana, Mexico, November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
Bride Evelia Reyes and groom Brian Houston, living on different sides of the US-Mexico border, stand for a family portrait after getting married during a briefly reunited during the 'Opening the Door of Hope' event at the border fence gate in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico on November 18, 2017. The event was organized by the Border Angels migrant advocacy group, in coordination with the Tijuana city government and the US Border Patrol. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLERMO ARIAS (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. resident Brian Houston marries Evelia Reyes as U.S. Border Patrol agents open a single gate in the border wall to allow selected families to visit along the U.S.-Mexico border at Border Field State Park in San Diego, California, U.S., November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Bride Evelia Reyes and groom Brian Houston, living on different sides of the US-Mexico border, stand for a family portrait after getting married during a briefly reunited during the 'Opening the Door of Hope' event at the border fence gate in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico on November 18, 2017. The event was organized by the Border Angels migrant advocacy group, in coordination with the Tijuana city government and the US Border Patrol. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLERMO ARIAS (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Bride Evelia Reyes (C) and groom Brian Houston (out of frame), living on different sides of the US-Mexico border, speak after getting married during a briefly reunited during the 'Opening the Door of Hope' event at the border fence gate in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico on November 18, 2017. The event was organized by the Border Angels migrant advocacy group, in coordination with the Tijuana city government and the US Border Patrol. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLERMO ARIAS (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A family embraces as U.S. Border patrol agents open a single gate in the border wall to allow selected families to embrace along the U.S. Mexico border at Border Field State Park in San Diego, California, U.S., November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. Border patrol agents open a single gate to allow families to hug and converse along the Mexico and U.S border in Tijuana, Mexico, November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra renewed his complaint that the Trump White House was “ignoring laws it doesn’t like in order to resuscitate a campaign talking point of building a wall on our southern border."

Related: Environmentalists sue to block Trump border wall

"A medieval wall along the U.S.-Mexico border simply does not belong in the 21st century.” Becerra said in his statement, noting that California officials were reviewing their options.

Another plaintiff in the case, the Center for Biological Diversity, announced that it would appeal. “The Trump administration has completely overreached its authority in its rush to build this destructive, senseless wall,” said Brian Segee, a senior attorney with the group. "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. This is unconstitutional and shouldn’t be allowed to stand.”

Related: Taco trucks to bad hombres: 7 times Latinos figured in Trump's campaign

Trump had said in June 2016, during the presidential campaign, that Curiel could not fairly judge a pair of class-action lawsuits brought against the real estate magnate for the operation of his for-profit Trump University. The candidate said Curiel would be biased, because he was a Mexican and would be upset by Trump's positions on immigration.

Trump also branded him a "hater" and "very hostile."

Curiel was born in Indiana to parents who were immigrants from Mexico. Trump's remarks prompted outrage from critics, who said he was refusing to acknowledge the judge was an American and capable of impartiality, merely because of his ethnic roots.

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