A border fence is seen near the Rio Grande which marks the boundary between Mexico and the U.S. in Eagle Pass, Texas. on February 09, 2019 in Eagle Pass, Texas. Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty)
By a 5-4 vote Friday night, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump can co-opt funds meant for the military to fund his beloved wall at the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico.
Trump trumpeted the ruling on Twitter as a “BIG VICTORY,” which came in the form of a one-paragraph, unsigned finding that the plaintiffs suing to stop Trump from transferring the money didn’t have standing to do so, the Washington Post reports.
The decision overturned a ruling by the U.S Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit earlier this month that found in favor of the Sierra Club and a coalition of communities along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on their behalf, the suit argued that the transfer of funds was illegal as Congress, by refusing Trump’s demands earlier this year for additional funding for the wall — prompting a government shutdown — had already decided the matter. They also expressed concerns about the environmental impact a border wall would have.
A federal trial judge had ruled in their favor initially, stating, as The Root reported earlier this year:
“The position that when Congress declines the Executive’s request to appropriate funds, the Executive nonetheless may simply find a way to spend those funds ‘without Congress’ does not square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic.”
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The Trump administration appealed, and after the 9th Circuit’s ruling, asked the Supreme Court to weigh in, citing a need to expedite things in order to possibly get the funding in time to contract for the work.
On Friday, the high court did, ruling along ideological lines that the ACLU and the environmental groups didn’t have standing to interfere in federal spending matters, and thus, the military money can be used as Trump sees fit.
However, as the New York Times notes, the Supreme Court’s decision more specifically concerned the initial federal trial judge’s decision that blocked the transfer of the military funds for Trump’s use. The federal appeals court in its ruling earlier this month refused to keep the trial judge’s decision from taking effect while the appeals court still considered the Trump administration’s case.
So, as the Times explains, litigation in the appeals case will still continue — while allowing construction on the wall to proceed, as the Supreme Court’s decision allows.
ACLU lawyer Dror Ladin, in an interview with the Times, called the ruling a temporary setback.
“We will be asking the federal appeals court to expedite the ongoing appeals proceeding to halt the irreversible and imminent damage from Trump’s border wall,” Ladin said. “Border communities, the environment, and our Constitution’s separation of powers will be permanently harmed should Trump get away with pillaging military funds for a xenophobic border wall Congress denied.”
So, bottom line, looks like Trump will get to build his wall, and by the time the appeals process makes its way through the courts, it may be almost impossible to undo any damage done.
Sounds like a common refrain when it comes to politics around these parts lately.