Five Supreme Court justices assisted President Donald Trump’s border wall Friday by allowing him to use Defense Department funds, putting in motion the project which had previously been frozen by lower courts.
What We Know:
- In June, two federal judges prohibited Trump from using these funds leaning on two lawsuits filed by California and anti-border wall activists. The lawsuits claim the use of military funding was unlawful and that the wall poses excessive environmental threats.
- Federal judges froze the funds while these lawsuits played out. The freeze was again upheld in early July by an appeals court in San Francisco. “This decision upholds the basic principle that the president has no power to spend taxpayer money without Congress’ approval,” said American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Dror Ladin.
- Trump requested that the Supreme Court lift this freeze on July 14, which the Supreme Court agreed to do Friday. The freeze had kept the government from around $2.5 billion in Defense Department money to improve on the wall in Arizona, California and New Mexico. The frozen money also includes $3.6 billion of military construction funds and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund, but Friday’s decision will only allow access to the Defense Department’s $2.5 billion.
- This Supreme Court decision comes after Trump received only $1.4 billion of the $5.7 billion he had requested from Congress for the border wall, resulting in a 35-day government shutdown in February, declaring a national emergency to take money from government accounts to be used towards wall construction.
- In response, the ACLU announced they will apply increased pressure to their lawsuit filed in February on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition challenging Trump’s “abuse of emergency powers for border wall funds Congress denied,” referring to the government shutdown. “This is not over. We will be asking the federal appeals court to expedite the ongoing appeals proceeding to halt this irreversible and imminent damage from Trump’s border wall,” Ladin said.
Trump wants the Supreme Court to continue to lift the freeze on the frozen money, claiming the trial judge who initially heard the case and initiated the freeze was wrong.