A bet on the courts is still risky. Democrats could easily get a judge less sympathetic to their case for standing, and they could very well lose on the merits of their argument. In recent weeks, a number of House Democrats have confidently told reporters and cable-TV anchors that Trump would be on shaky legal ground if he declared a national emergency, but that’s “just bravado,” Prakash said. “Most of them don’t know anything about these statutes … Even if they wrote it, probably what they mean is that some staff member put it together.”

There’s risk for House Democrats in suing Trump: A failed suit could undermine the fragile legal theory that the House has standing to sue the president in certain cases. Democrats should use this tool, Turley said, only “as a matter of last resort.”