Two Courts Rule Against Wall Transfer Authority
By Heather Ham-Warren | FAIR Take | December 2019
This week, two separate federal judges ruled that the Trump administration could not divert $3.6 billion in Department of Defense funding to construction of a wall along the southern border.
To review, last December the federal government began the longest shutdown in history after House Democrats refused to support a continuing resolution offered by the Senate that included $5 billion for new border wall funding. In late January, the government was reopened for three weeks with both political parties agreeing to resume negotiations. Eventually, a bipartisan agreement was passed and signed by President Trump without the requested wall funding.
In response, President Trump declared a state of emergency at the southern border, utilizing his executive powers to redirect billions of dollars towards the construction of a border wall. Since the declaration, the executive action has been challenged both in the judicial and legislative branches. However, these recent court decisions are the first real roadblock in ten months. In fact, in July, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) expressly permitted the government to utilize $2.5 billion for military counter-drug funding for the border wall temporarily—signaling that the nation’s highest court might defer to the executive branch regarding national emergencies.
In Judge Briones decision, he outlines his belief that the ruling does not conflict with the SCOTUS decision because the case in his court focused on military construction funds and not counterdrug money.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the administration would appeal the ruling, which she said would unfairly block "multiple projects that are hundreds of miles away and have nothing to do with these plaintiffs."
"The Supreme Court has already stayed one erroneous injunction blocking the use of a different statutory authority to build the border wall and the Administration plans to immediately appeal this incorrect decision, too,” she added in a statement.
FAIR will continue to monitor these cases as they progress.