Groups ask Supreme Court to halt construction of Trump border wall

Groups ask Supreme Court to halt construction of Trump border wall
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Several interest groups on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to halt the Trump administration’s construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall after a federal appeals court ruled last month that its use of Pentagon funding for the project is illegal.

The Sierra Club and other petitioners asked the justices to lift their order from last July that allowed President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic On The Money: Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban | Trump attorney says he will fight release of tax returns Lack of transatlantic cooperation on trade threatens global climate change goals MORE to begin spending $2.5 billion in reallocated defense funds to build the border wall while legal challenges proceeded through the courts.

The Supreme Court’s July 2019 order, decided 5-4, is still in effect despite a ruling by a federal appeals court in California last month that Trump’s diversion of defense, military and other funding was unconstitutional.


“The Trump administration has lost in every lower court, but is still rushing to complete the president’s border wall before the Supreme Court can review the merits of this case. If the administration succeeds, there will be no border wall construction left to stop by the time the Supreme Court hears this case,” said Dror Ladin, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Legal challenges arose early last year after Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border in an effort to free up additional funding after a congressional spending bill allocated some $1.3 billion for border security, far short of the nearly $5 billion Trump said was needed to complete his signature project.

Trump then reallocated $2.5 billion in funding that Congress appropriated for defense and military uses.

Last month, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled 2-1 that Trump’s maneuver violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, which gives Congress the exclusive power of the purse. The decision affirmed a lower court’s injunction against the use of defense funds to build the wall.


“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.”

The 9th Circuit dispute is one of several lawsuits filed against the Trump administration over its emergency border wall funding.

A related challenge brought by House Democrats is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In April, the D.C. Circuit heard arguments that centered on whether courts have the power to referee the fight between Congress and the White House, or if its resolution should be left up to the political process.

Updated at 3:58 p.m.