Supreme Court Allows Trump Administration to Use Pentagon Funds for Border Wall

July 26, 2019 Updated: July 28, 2019

The Supreme Court ruled on July 26 that President Donald Trump can use $2.5 billion in Department of Defense funding to build a portion of the wall along the southern border.

Touting the 5-4 ruling as a victory for his administration, Trump wrote on Twitter that it was a “big VICTORY on the Wall.”

“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!” he wrote.

All the Republican-nominated justices voted in favor of allowing the spending, and all the Democratic-appointed justices dissented except for Justice Stephen Breyer who said he would have allowed preliminary planning but disagreed with funding.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the victory clears the way for the Trump administration to build 100 extra miles of border wall in New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

Namely, the Supreme Court lifted orders by a federal judge in California and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which barred the White House from using the Defense Department’s funds for the wall.

A section of border wall is constructed on the U.S. side of the border in Tijuana
A section of border wall is constructed on the U.S. side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Jan. 28, 2019. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr., of the United States District Court in Oakland, said it was unauthorized.

“The case is not about whether the challenged border barrier construction plan is wise or unwise. It is not about whether the plan is the right or wrong policy response to existing conditions at the southern border of the United States,” Gilliam wrote. “Instead, this case presents strict legal questions regarding whether the proposed plan for funding border barrier construction exceeds the executive branch’s lawful authority.”

A carpet shoe, usually worn by smugglers and illegal aliens, is caught in the concertina wire on the U.S.-Mexico border fence near Sierra Vista, Arizona, on May 8, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Noel J. Francisco, the solicitor general, called on the Supreme Court to make a ruling and intercede.

He said the plaintiffs’ “interests in hiking, bird watching and fishing in designated drug-smuggling corridors do not outweigh the harm to the public from halting the government’s efforts to construct barriers to stanch the flow of illegal narcotics across the southern border.”

In February, Trump declared a national emergency to redirect funds to the Department of Homeland Security from other federal agencies.

The money Trump identified includes $3.6 billion from military construction funds, $2.5 billion in Defense Department money, and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund.

The case before the Supreme Court involved just the $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds, which the administration says will be used to construct more than 100 miles of fencing. One project would replace 46 miles of barrier in New Mexico for $789 million.

Another would replace 63 miles in Arizona for $646 million. The other two projects in California and Arizona are smaller. The other funds were not at issue in the case. The Treasury Department funds have so far survived legal challenges, and Customs and Border Protection has earmarked the money for work in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas but has not yet awarded contracts.

Transfer of the $3.6 billion in military construction funds is waiting on approval from the defense secretary. The lawsuit at the Supreme Court challenging the use of the Defense Department funds was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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