U.S. Sen Jerry Moran should be commended for his vote against President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration at the Southern border.

The president’s move — meant to fund his promised wall — confounded lawmakers across the political spectrum. Emergency declarations had previously been used in narrower circumstances and not as a way to redirect money that Congress had expressly refused to authorize as part of the usual budget process.

Moran’s decision to stand up and take a vote against the president, a member of his political party, was a brave one. He was one of 12 Republicans who similarly took a stand on principle, not political expediency. While the Senate vote to end the emergency declaration will likely be vetoed by the president, lawmakers were wise to draw a line in the sand.

There may, or may not, be a good case for a wall. Voices have been raised and opinions expressed on both sides. But politics is ultimately about finding a common path through a minefield of partisan bickering. Republicans and Democrats had agreed on a budget plan that included some funding for the wall, but not as much as the president wanted.

Going after those funds at any cost — rather than continuing to engage with appropriators in the House and Senate — was unwise. It opened the president to charges of hypocrisy, given previous criticism of President Obama’s executive orders, and it raised constitutional questions.

Could future presidents likewise declare national emergencies to divert funds for their key issues? Could a Democratic president declare a national emergency over climate change and unilaterally enact the Green New Deal?

Moran decided that enough was enough. His vote, and the handwritten explanation of it he shared on Twitter, shows a lawmaker who ultimately puts the Constitution and the rule of law ahead of party, politics or presidents.

In many ways, the senator himself put it best toward the end of his statement.

“If the Constitution means one thing in the Obama administration and another in the Trump administration, the enduring value of the Constitution disappears and another generation of Americans will be less free. ... How we do things — even good things — matters. We were raised that the ends don’t justify the means.”

We believe that Republicans and Democrats want the best for this country. They may disagree often. But the structure of our government exists to resolve these disputes and channel compromises into policy.

Those structures, and that government, are more important than any single leader.

 

Gatehouse Kansas