Trump illegally used funds for the border wall, court rules

A federal appeals court decided 2-1 on Friday that the Trump administration violated the law by using military money to build a wall on the southern border of Arizona, New Mexico and California.

A panel of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the power of the wallet belongs to Congress and that the administration lacked constitutional authority to transfer military money to the border project. Two appointed Democrats were in the majority. A person appointed by Trump disagrees.

“The president has long supported the construction of a border wall on the southern border of the United States and Mexico,” wrote Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas, appointed by Clinton, to the court in one of two decisions on the issue. .

“However, since the President took office in 2017, Congress has repeatedly refused to provide the amount of funds requested by the President.”

Whether the resolutions will be upheld is uncertain. Last year, the Supreme Court blocked a Ninth Circuit court order that prohibited the administration from spending $ 2.5 billion of military money on the wall. The superior court acted after the Trump administration filed an emergency appeal.

Friday’s rulings reinstated that mandate, which the Trump administration will almost certainly appeal.

Brian Segee, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, called the Supreme Court decision “an ominous sign” for wall challengers. The center has a separate pending lawsuit against the administration’s use of military funds for the project.

The superior court in July 2019 cleared the way for Trump to spend the money while the problem he was litigated in the Ninth Circuit, a sign that a majority in the Supreme Court can revoke the Ninth Circuit once again. In a one-paragraph decision, conservatives in the higher court voted in favor of Trump, and liberals disagreed.

Friday’s decisions came in two cases, one filed by California and other states, the other by Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition. Both suits charged that the wall would harm the environment, including endangered species. The same panel listened to both, with Thomas writing for the majority and Trump’s designated judge, Daniel P. Collins, disagreeing.

Trump argued that the wall was necessary to prevent drug smuggling.

But most of the Ninth Circuit said Friday that the law allows the transfer of Pentagon funds only for unforeseen military purposes, and that a border wall “was not an unforeseen military requirement.” Drug smuggling at the border was not a new or unforeseen problem, most said.

“There was no unforeseen crisis at the border,” wrote Thomas, along with Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, also appointed by Clinton. “Nothing prevented Congress from financing solutions to this problem through the regular allocation process: Congress simply decided not to finance this particular solution.”

Trump-appointed Collins said in a dissent that fighting illegal drug activity was “clearly” a military function. He argued that the court should have confirmed the money transfer.

The state of California and the Sierra Club praised Friday’s decisions.

“Today, the court reminded the President, once again, that no one is above the law,” Atty said. General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

While the Trump Administration steals public funds to build an unauthorized wall on the southern border, families across the country struggle to pay their bills. They deserve to know that their hard-earned dollars go toward what the law intended: to benefit their families and communities. “

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, called the decision in his case “a victory for the rule of law, the environment, and border communities.”

“President Trump’s xenophobic wall is already leveling protected lands, desecrating cultural sites and destroying wildlife,” said Dror Ladin, attorney for the ACLU National Security Project. “The damage that has been done cannot be undone, but we will return to the Supreme Court to finally stop this destructive wall.”

The United States Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.