Court Battles

Supreme Court dismisses House Democrats’ challenge to Trump border wall moves

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The Supreme Court has directed a lower court to dismiss as moot House Democrats’ challenges to former President Trump’s diversion of military funding to build his border wall.

The ruling sides with the Biden administration, who asked the high court to dismiss a D.C. Circuit Court ruling that found House Democrats had standing to sue over border wall funding — something the executive branch argued would “open the courthouse doors to a sweeping range” of confrontations.

Trump had redirected more than $6 billion in military funding to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. But President Biden on his first day in office froze construction of the wall, eventually directing the funds elsewhere.

By determining the case to be moot, the court sidesteps a rare battle over the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, with House Democrat initially arguing Trump usurped their power of the purse by redirecting the funds.

When the Biden administration then sought to dismiss the case, House Democrats argued their suit was “fundamentally different” from other cases unwound by the reversal from the administration.

Citing “remarkable circumstances,” the House argued “the executive branch provides no reason to think that anything like the scenario here is likely to play out again.”

The decision follows another from earlier this month in which the court again sided with the executive, directing lower courts to reconsider earlier rulings freezing funding for the wall.

The decision tees up another stage of the battle for border wall challengers, who argue Biden must remediate the damage from the construction of the wall. 

But relitigating the case in the lower courts also gives the federal government a chance to push back on earlier court decisions that could limit executive power, particularly the president’s ability to use emergency declarations. 

The Biden administration is also facing suits from states challenging its freezing of the funds.

Following a complaint from Republicans, the Government Accountability Office ruled that the move did not violate budgetary law.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden

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