U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court will rule whether Trump can divert military funds for border wall

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border wall

The international border wall between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. Photo from Shutterstock.com.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether the Trump administration can divert $2.5 billion in military funds to pay for the border wall.

The court granted certiorari in the consolidated cases, Trump v. Sierra Club and Trump v. California.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco had ruled in June that President Donald Trump violated the Constitution’s appropriations clause when he transferred Department of Defense funds to construct parts of the wall in California, Arizona and New Mexico. The appeals court said the statute cited by the government did not authorize the spending.

The Supreme Court in August refused to block Trump from using the funds while litigation continued.

The cert petition argues that Section 8005 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act authorizes Trump to use the funds. The statute provides that the secretary of defense can transfer funds between defense appropriation accounts if “such action is necessary in the national interest.”

The law says such authority can’t be used “unless for higher priority items, based on unforeseen military requirements, than those for which originally appropriated and in no case where the item for which funds are requested has been denied by the Congress.”

The cert petition also argues that the plaintiffs don’t have standing to sue. The plaintiffs in one suit are the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition. In the other suit, the plaintiffs are several states, including California and New Mexico.

The American Civil Liberties Union represents the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition. Dror Ladin, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, commented in a press release.

“Everyone knows that Trump failed to get Congress to fund his xenophobic wall obsession, and every lower court that has considered the case has found that the president has no authority to waste billions of taxpayer dollars on construction,” Ladin said.

Hat tip to SCOTUSblog. The Associated Press and the Washington Post are among publications with coverage of the cert grant.

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