Supreme Court won’t hear border wall challenge
The Supreme Court has declined to take a case challenging President Trump’s border wall, leaving in place a decision that rejected environmental groups’ quest to stop construction.
The court will not hear an appeal to a case seeking to block construction on 145 miles of wall running along Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.
The Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and other environmental groups filed the cause in January, arguing the Department of Homeland Security did not have the authority to waive environmental requirements to speed construction.
“We’re disappointed that the Supreme Court won’t consider the Trump administration’s flagrant abuse of the law to fast-track border wall construction,” Jean Su, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a Monday statement.
“This administration has made a mockery of the Constitution to build an enormously destructive wall. We’ll continue to fight these illegal waivers and do everything possible to prevent further damage to the beautiful borderlands.”
The suit had challenged 16 waivers that exempted Homeland Security from considering 40 different environmental laws, the groups contended, nixing consideration of the wall’s many potential environmental impacts. Building the wall could block migration for Mexican grey wolves and jaguars and damage ecosystems of cacti and rare wetlands, they argued.
Defenders of Wildlife also pledged to continue to examine the legality of the waivers.
“The Trump administration’s waiver of federal and state law to expedite border wall construction raises serious constitutional issues and those issues deserve to be heard,” Jason Rylander, senior endangered species counsel for the group, said in a statement.
The administration has faced multiple suits from environmental groups, who have both challenged the wall’s funding and argued it will hurt habitats for threatened and endangered species.
The Pentagon’s February reallocation of $3.8 billion to build the wall spurred at least three suits, including one by a group of 19 states and another by the American Civil Liberties Union alongside environmental groups.
A federal appeals court in California on Friday sided with the states that sued, arguing the redirection of funds was illegal.
In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the move violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, which gives Congress the exclusive power of the purse.
“These funds were appropriated for other purposes, and the transfer amounted to ‘drawing funds from the Treasury without authorization by statute and thus violating the Appropriations Clause,’ ” the majority wrote. “Therefore, the transfer of funds here was unlawful.”
—Updated at 1:08 p.m.