Supreme Court sides with Trump on border wall in 5-4 decision

It’s being called a “major victory” for President Trump by both the LA Times and Politico. The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to hand Trump a win on border wall spending.

President Donald Trump scored a major victory at the Supreme Court on Friday, as the justices lifted a lower court order blocking a key part of his plan to expand the border wall with Mexico.

The Justice Department had asked the justices to stay a pair of rulings an Oakland-based federal judge issued in May and June blocking Trump’s plan to use about $2.5 billion in military construction funds for wall projects in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

All the Republican-appointed justices voted in favor of allowing Trump to proceed with that aspect of his plan while litigation over the issue continues. All the Democratic-appointed justices dissented, except for Justice Stephen Breyer who said he would have allowed the contracting process to move forward but blocked actual construction.

Trump himself celebrated the win on Twitter:

The $2.5 billion in question is excess from the military budget which Trump claimed on the grounds of seeking to prevent cross-border drug trafficking. The Sierra Club and other groups sued the administration arguing the wall construction would interfere with wildlife and natural habitats and injunctions were issued preventing use of the funds while the lawsuit was ongoing.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco appealed to the Supreme Court arguing a quick decision was needed because unless the $2.5 billion was spent by Sep. 30, it would no longer be available. From CNN:

[Francisco] said that the funds are necessary to permit the construction of more than 100 miles of fencing in areas the government has identified as “drug-smuggling corridors” where it has seized “thousands of pounds of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine” in recent years.

“Respondents’ interests in hiking, birdwatching, and fishing in designated drug-smuggling corridors do not outweigh the harm to the public from halting the government’s efforts to construct barriers to stanch the flow of illegal narcotics across the southern border,” Francisco argued in the papers, regarding the challenge from environmental groups.

The ACLU which represented the other groups in court is vowing to fight on:

“This is not over. We will be asking the federal appeals court to expedite the ongoing appeals proceeding to halt the irreversible and imminent damage from Trump’s border wall. Border communities, the environment, and our Constitution’s separation of powers will be permanently harmed should Trump get away with pillaging military funds for a xenophobic border wall Congress denied,” said Dror Ladin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project.

I’m not sure the lower courts can work through the cases faster than Trump can spend the money now that the stay is gone, but I guess we’ll find out.