SCOTUS: Yes, the President can build that wall

Friday was apparently the day that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts flipped the magic coin he carries around in his pocket now and it came up “conservative.” In one of the latest rulings handed down by the justices, it was determined that the President is allowed to use $2.5 billion in reallocated Pentagon funds to continue construction on the wall. (That would be the wall that didn’t actually blow down during a recent hurricane.) It was yet another 5-4 decision, with Roberts voting with the court’s four conservative justices and all of the liberal justices opposing. And that should be the end of that. (The Hill)

The Supreme Court on Friday declined to block the Trump administration from using $2.5 billion in reallocated Pentagon funds to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

In a 5-4 ruling that broke along ideological lines, the court’s conservative majority denied a bid by interest groups to halt construction after a federal appeals court last month said the use of defense funding for the project is illegal. The court’s four more liberal justices dissented from the ruling.

The Sierra Club, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other challengers had asked the justices to lift their order from last July that allowed President Trump to begin spending the funds while legal challenges proceeded through the courts.

This has truly been a curious case from the beginning. None of the funds in question were “new” or in some way misappropriated. The money had already been appropriated for the military. And as we’ve discussed here in the past, there are provisions under federal law that allow the military (and/or their subcontractors) to engage in construction activity with a certain number of miles of the border. And yet the plaintiffs were able to find a court in California to declare the use of the money unconstitutional and now four justices on the Supreme Court were willing to say the same.

One entertaining note from the proceedings came in the dissent, where Stephen Breyer wrote that he feared the majority’s ruling “may operate, in effect, as a final judgment.” Well… yes. Just as a reminder, Associate Justice Breyer, you’re on the Supreme Court. Your job is kind of the definition of the “final judgment” when it comes to American jurisprudence, wouldn’t you say?

President Trump began a serious push to get more of the wall finished prior to the end of the year and even with the pandemic messing everything up, quite a bit has been accomplished. As of late June, 216 miles of new and secondary wall have been built since 2017. Another 339 miles is under construction and 183 miles more are listed as being in pre-construction. That’s not going to be anywhere near enough to cover the whole border by the end of Trump’s first term. Heck, there might not be a chance to cover the entire border during his second term, assuming he gets the chance.

But in reality, some areas don’t need a wall as much as other parts of the border. There are long stretches of simply brutal desert where the landscape itself is enough of a barrier to deter all but the most well-equipped, physically capable and determined. It’s the sections near populated areas and crossing points that need a barrier the most, and that’s where almost all of the effort has been focused.

Exit question: Let’s just say for a moment that President Trump doesn’t win a second term. Do you really think Joe Biden would have the audacity to spend time, money and resources to tear down some of the new wall? Given some of the bizarre promises he’s been making to the left lately, I wouldn’t laugh off the idea too quickly.

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