Supreme Court allows use of Pentagon funds for border wall

28 Juillet, 2019, 00:45 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • A U.S. border patrol officer overlooks the wall that separates the cities of Tijuana Mexico and San Diego. Associated Press  Gregory Bull

The court's action means the Trump administration can tap the funds and begin work on four contracts it has awarded. The Court may be referring here to Judge N. Randy Smith's argument in his dissent in the Ninth Circuit ruling on this issue, where he argued that only plaintiffs with "economic interests" at stake are legally permitted to challenge the funding diversion. The court's four liberal justices would not have allowed construction to start.

The court's 5-4 ruling fully reversed a California district judge's decision last month forbidding the president from redirecting the Congress-approved funds because the legislature hadn't specifically authorized the money to be spent on Trump's long-touted construction project.

"This is such a small proportion of the funds that are necessary to build this wall that it is really a symbolic gesture on the part of the Supreme Court supporting Donald Trump's authority as commander-in-chief of the armed forces". Big VICTORY on the Wall.

The high court's order temporarily settles just one of several skirmishes between the Trump administration and House Democrats, "blue" states led by California, and environmental groups over border wall funds. "Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!" he wrote.

The administration asked that the injunction barring use of the reprogrammed funds be put on hold pending an appeal but the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals declined to do so.

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

The court's split decision unfreezes approximately $2.5 billion in money that had originally been allocated by Congress for use by the Defense Department.

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The order is a major political victory for Trump, who can now begin construction of the barrier between the U.S. and Mexico. Another would replace 101 kilometres in Arizona for NZ$973 million. The groups argued the wall - in areas in Arizona, California and New Mexico - would harm the environment.

Leading Democrats criticized Trump's plans to use earmarked funds in an effort to come through on his signature campaign issue. Transfer of the NZ$5.4 billion in military construction funds is waiting on approval from the defence secretary.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the groups, argued in court papers against a stay of the lower court ruling, fearful of the wall's impact on border communities.

"It's a sad day when the president is cheering a decision that may allow him to steal funds from our military to pay for an ineffective and expensive wall for which he promised Mexico would foot the bill", he posted.

Claire Finkelstein, Director of the Centre for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, said the Supreme Court's ruling was a symbolic gesture to support Trump.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of NY called the decision "deeply regrettable and nonsensical". The administration had argued that if it wasn't able to finalize the contracts by September 30, then it would lose the ability to use the funds.

"I would grant the Government's application to stay the injunction only to the extent that the injunction prevents the Government from finalizing the contracts or taking other preparatory administrative action", he wrote.


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