The US Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow construction of a portion of the Trump Administration’s border wall to proceed in the midst of continuing legal challenges.
The decision represents a loss for The Sierra Club and the Southern Borders Communities Coalition, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which had requested the justices lift an order from a year ago that allowed the federal government to continue building the wall pending appeals, reports say.
The ruling is considered a win for US President Donald Trump, who has made the construction of the wall a cornerstone of his presidency. It follows the US Congress’ refusal a year ago to provide further funding for the construction of a border wall between Mexico and the US. At that time, Trump declared a national emergency in an attempt to gain access to billions of dollars in funding.
The current dispute specifically centers on the ACLU’s challenge to the use of US$2.5 billion from the Pentagon to construct parts of the wall in Arizona, New Mexico and California. Last month, a federal appeals court ruled against Trump, arguing the administration doesn’t have the authority to divert Pentagon funds to build additional barriers on the US-Mexico border without congressional authorization. The opinion had no immediate effect, however, because of the Supreme Court’s order from last year that is still in place.
Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. Breyer noted that by the time the court reaches the case on the merits, the portion of the wall may already be complete.
“The Court’s decision to let construction continue nevertheless, I fear, may operate in effect, as a final judgment,” Breyer wrote, according to a report a from CNN.com.
In related news, plans by the US government to divert funds away from overseas construction projects – including a number in Europe – have emerged.
In a memo, reported by the US media, Defense Secretary Mark Espers directed Pentagon comptroller Elaine McCusker to withdraw more than US$500 million (€457 million) from defence projects outside of the US, to enable progress on the barrier intended to prevent illegal entry to the US from Mexico.
Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says if elected, he would not tear down the parts of the barrier along the US Southern border built during the Trump administration — but he would cease construction, according to a report from NPR.com
“There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration, number one,” he was quoted. ”I’m going to make sure that we have border protection, but it’s going to be based on making sure that we use high-tech capacity to deal with it.”