SAN DIEGO (CBSLA/AP) — A San Diego federal judge who was berated by Donald Trump during the presidential campaign ruled in favor Tuesday of the Trump administration by rejecting a lawsuit challenging the border wall with Mexico.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel said he was inclined to conclude he can decide a lawsuit that challenges the president’s proposed border wall. The administration argued Curiel did not have jurisdiction to make the ruling.

Curiel rejected arguments by the state of California and advocacy groups that the administration overreached by waiving laws requiring environmental and other reviews before construction could begin. The challengers said a law that gave the Homeland Security secretary authority to waive the reviews had expired.

The ruling removes a potentially big obstacle for one of Trump signature campaign pledges. Environmental reviews are subject to legal challenges that can significantly delay or block construction.

Trump is expected to visit San Diego in March to preview the border-wall prototypes. It will be his first visit to California since winning the presidency.

In March of 2017, Curiel approved a $25 million settlement that Trump paid to settle civil lawsuits over his now-defunct Trump University.

During the campaign, Trump suggested Curiel was biased and could not rule fairly over the Trump University cases because the Indiana-born judge is of Mexican heritage. Trump later apologized.

“My comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage,” Trump said in a statement last June. “I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent. The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges. All judges should be held to that standard. I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial.”

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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