Congress failed to stop President Trump’s border emergency wall-building campaign through the legislative process, so now Democrats are turning to the courts.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that the House will file a lawsuit arguing Mr. Trump is breaking the law by spending money in a way Congress doesn’t want.

“The president’s action clearly violates the Appropriations Clause by stealing from appropriated funds, an action that was not authorized by constitutional or statutory authority,” she said in a statement announcing the move.

Her move is similar to one taken by Republicans when they controlled the House and President Barack Obama was in office, and he spent money on an Obamacare program despite Congress zeroing out that funding in its own spending bills.

That case resulted in an early ruling in favor of the GOP, but the case was ultimately settled once Mr. Trump took over from Mr. Obama.

Democrats argue Mr. Trump is susceptible to the same kind of lawsuit after Congress voted to give him just $1.375 billion for wall money this year, and he then declared an emergency under the 1976 Emergencies Act and said he would shift billions more money toward the wall.

The administration says this case is different because Congress explicitly gave the president expansive spending powers in the Emergencies Act. And the Emergencies Act already gives Congress a way to rein in the president on its own, by passing a resolution disapproving of the emergency.

Congress attempted to use that power, but was unable to overcome Mr. Trump’s veto.

Legal analysts say the fact that Congress tried but failed to use its own legislative tools could work against Mrs. Pelosi’s legal case in the courts.

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