The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request to halt the construction of the border wall along the US-Mexico border.
In a 5-4 ruling on ideological lines, with five conservatives in the majority and four liberals in dissent, the court declined the request from two groups, the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition. Sierra Club is an environmental group. The Southern Border Communities Coalition says it advocates for people living in border areas.
The case has its origins from when President Donald Trump had declared a national emergency in February 2019 to build the border wall along the southern border after the Congress provided only $1.375 billion for the border wall construction, far less than the $5.7 billion requested by the administration. The White House then identified an extra $6.7 billion from other government accounts to fund the border wall construction, including $2.5 billion from Defense Department, $3.6 billion from military construction funds, and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s assets forfeiture fund.
The case before the Supreme Court involves just the $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a left-leaning legal group, had launched the lawsuit on behalf of the two groups. The non-profit organization has said it will seek to tear down sections of the wall that were built with the money.
The Supreme Court had allowed the funds to be allocated in July 2019, granting an emergency request filed by the Trump administration. But the groups said in court papers that circumstances had changed since the court’s earlier ruling.
The court’s four liberal justices dissented, saying they would have prohibited construction while a court challenge continues after a federal appeals court ruled in June that the administration had illegally sidestepped Congress in transferring the Defense Department funds.
“The Court’s decision to let construction continue nevertheless I fear, may operate, in effect, as a final judgment,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in a brief dissent (pdf) for the four liberals.
As the Wall goes up, illegal crossings go down. This past week we built over 10 miles of Wall at our Southern Border. We now have 256 miles of NEW Wall and we are on track to have 300 miles completed by the end of August! pic.twitter.com/AWl0dYfY1w— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
Building the southern border wall is a major promise of Trump’s 2016 campaign. Trump said on Thursday that 256 miles of new wall has been built and there will be another 44 miles expected to be finished by the end of August.
“As the Wall goes up, illegal crossings go down,” the president touted in a Twitter post.