Forget Roe v Wade. Will a bolstered Supreme Court majority overrule two key appellate losses for the Trump administration on immigration? Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s arrival will drop her square in the middle of two hot-button cases, both of which might end up mooted by the election.
The Trump administration lost both of these battles in their appellate bête noire, the Ninth Circuit. However, in both cases, the previously constituted Supreme Court had already signaled their skepticism. First, the court granted cert in Trump v Sierra Club, which challenged the administration’s shifting of funds appropriated by Congress to building the border wall, but it’s hardly their first look at the dispute:
A federal appeals court ruled in June that the government improperly diverted $2.5 billion of Pentagon counter-drug program money to build more than 100 miles of border wall. The court said only Congress could approve such a transfer.
President Donald Trump ordered the use of the Defense Department money last year after a fight over his budget that led to a partial government shutdown. It ended after Democrats approved money for border wall construction, but nowhere near what the president wanted.
The wall’s opponents, including the Sierra Club and some border communities, said the president cannot spend more than Congress has authorized or use the money in a manner inconsistent with the purposes of appropriations already made. Their lawsuit also said an emergency declaration law invoked by the president allows use of Pentagon construction funds only to support the military.