Supreme Court OKs Use of Military Funds for Trump Border Wall

Part of the border wall at Calexico, Calif. (AP photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Supreme Court lifted a lower court decision Friday that blocked President Donald Trump from using $2.5 billion from military accounts to build a portion of his long-promised wall along the southern border.

The order lifts an injunction from a federal judge in California in a case brought by the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition challenging President Donald Trump’s February declaration of a national emergency at the southern border. The White House has said the emergency declaration would help it access more than $8 billion to build the wall.

The order from California only blocked part of the proposed construction, locking away $2.5 billion transferred from Department of Defense accounts that the administration was planning to use on construction of specific segments of the wall.

The case is currently pending before the Ninth Circuit.

“Wow! Big VICTORY on the wall,” Trump tweeted after the decision. “The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows southern border wall to proceed. Big WIN for border security and the Rule of Law!”

In a brief order, the conservative majority of the court stated the injunction had to be lifted because the administration did enough to show that the groups bringing the suit “have no cause of action to obtain review” of the decision to move $2.5 billion from military accounts toward the construction of the wall. The order lifts the injunction until the court either declines to hear the case or rules on its merits.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote he would have only partially granted the stay, allowing the Trump administration to do preliminary work like finalize contracts but barring it from doing any actual construction.

Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg said they would have denied outright the administration’s request to lift the injunction.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement that the decision “flies in the face” of Congress and its “exclusive power of the purse.”

“It’s a sad day when the president is cheering a decision that may allow him to steal funds from our military to pay for an ineffective and expensive wall for which he promised Mexico would foot the bill,” Schumer said. “As litigation continues, I hope that the courts ultimately reach the correct decision that the president doesn’t have the authority to build his ineffective and expensive wall.”

Dror Ladin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security project who is working on the case, said the plaintiffs will ask the Ninth Circuit to speed up the proceedings before it as a result of the Supreme Courts’ order Friday.

“This is not over,” Ladin said in a statement. “Border communities, the environment and our Constitution’s separation of powers will be permanently destroyed should Trump get away with pillaging military funds for a xenophobic border wall Congress denied.”

Trump declared the national emergency in February after agreeing to a spending deal that ended a month-long government shutdown. The White House said the move was necessary to free up $3.6 billion for the wall, after Congress provided just $1.375 billion in the funding bill.

The White House has cited separate authority for moving the $2.5 billion the Supreme Court allowed it to access with its ruling on Friday.

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