PASADENA (CBSLA/AP) — A legal challenge to President Trump’s planned border wall hinges on whether the state of California and environmental groups can fight the project in court.

Judges at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday struggled with whether the case should even be before them.

At issue before the three-judge panel in Pasadena is a 2005 law that gave the Homeland Security secretary broad authority to waive all legal requirements to expedite constructing sections of border wall. The law also restricts legal challenges.

The state and advocacy groups contend the authority to bypass those laws expired and the court can consider their claims that the federal government must comply with environmental laws.

In its appeal, the Center for Biological Diversity continued to argue that the government was “relying on a congressional waiver that expired years ago,” according to Brian Segee, an attorney for the group.

“Borderland communities and wildlife deserve the same protections as everyone else in the country,” he said. “We’re hopeful that the court will
put an end to this lawlessness and executive overreach.”

If the groups are allowed to press their claims they could stall or derail the project.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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