Supreme Court says Trump can spend military funds on border wall

The Supreme Court handed President Trump a major victory by ruling his administration could move ahead with its plan to use $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds for construction of a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In an order Friday, the high court lifted an injunction from a federal district court in California that blocked the Trump administration from using the money, initially designated for counter-narcotic efforts. Liberal Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan would have denied the Trump administration’s request. Justice Stephen Breyer said he would allow the federal government to finalize contracts but not finalize construction.

Within minutes, Trump celebrated the news on Twitter.

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court this month to intervene in the dispute and argued the lower court’s order “frustrates the government’s ability” to stem the flow of drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border. Additionally, Solicitor General Noel Francisco warned, the money from the Department of Defense at issue will not be available after the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

“The harm to the government and the public from enjoining [the Department of Defense’s] use of the transferred funds during litigation is significant,” Francisco told the Supreme Court.

The dispute before the high court originated with the president’s declaration of a national emergency in February, which allowed him to circumvent Congress and divert billions of federal dollars for construction of a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president originally asked lawmakers to provide $5.7 billion for the border wall, but Democrats rebuffed the request, and the impasse led to a record-setting partial government shutdown that lasted 35 days.

Congress ended up passing legislation — signed by the president — that included $1.4 billion for border barriers, and Trump identified roughly $8.1 billion from other accounts to fund construction of the border wall, which included the $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s drug interdiction program and $3.6 billion from its military construction fund to be siphoned under his emergency declaration.

The president’s move, however, was swiftly challenged in federal court by 16 states, environmental groups, and the Democrat-led House. In one of the lawsuits, now before the high court, the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition, an advocacy group, called for use of the $2.5 billion to be halted.

The district court in May blocked the Trump administration from using the Defense Department’s money to construct the border wall, and a divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals declined this month to lift the injunction.

*story by The Washington Examiner