Supreme Court Green Lights Use of Defense Dollars for Border Wall; Appellate Court Allows Congress to Sue, However
The U.S. Supreme Court handed the American people an important victory on July 31, when it declined to block the Trump administration’s use of $2.5 billion in Department of Defense (DOD) funds for border wall construction. The 5-4 decision rejected efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups to prevent the administration’s use of Pentagon funds.
Congress, which authorized construction of a border wall in 2007 with overwhelming bipartisan support, more recently has refused to fund its construction with now near unanimous Democratic opposition. President Trump has pledged to add some 450-miles of new wall by the end of the year. His opponent in the November election, former Vice President Joe Biden has pledged that not one more foot of wall would be constructed under his administration, even though he joined with the majority of Democrats who authorized the construction of the wall in 2007.
In response to Congress’ unwillingness to fund border wall construction, President Trump tapped about $6 billion in defense construction funds from the DOD’s budget (to construct a security barrier for national defense) and money from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund.
Less than two weeks after the Supreme Court denied the ACLU’s effort to halt border wall construction, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for Congress to sue to prevent the administration from using DOD and Treasury money for wall construction. The Appellate Court’s ruling does not immediately block the administration from using these funds, but does clear the way for congressional Democrats to pursue a legal case aimed at stopping the president from using funds not specifically authorized for wall construction.