Trump admin asks Supremes to lift unwarranted block of military funds needed for border wall

President Trump’s administration is asking the Supreme Court to lift a court order blocking the use of military funds to build a wall along the southern U.S. border.

A stay application was filed Friday in an effort to lift an order by an Oakland-based federal judge which blocked  border wall construction in California, Arizona and New Mexico and placed a freeze on the president’s plan to divert military funds to pay for the projects, according to The Hill.

(Image: Wikimedia)

In his filing, Solicitor General Noel Francisco asked the Supreme Court Justices to issue an “immediate administrative stay” of the injunction pending an appeal by the Department of Justice to the 9th Circuit Court, citing the burden it places on federal officials who are confronting drug trafficking across the border.

“The harm to the government and the public from enjoining DOD’s use of the transferred funds during litigation is significant. The injunction frustrates the government’s ability to stop the flow of drugs across the border in known drug-smuggling corridors,” Francisco wrote.

District Judge Haywood Gilliam had issued the order blocking the use of the military funds and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided not to issue a stay on that order last week in a 2-1 ruling stating that “the use of those funds violates the constitutional requirement that the Executive Branch not spend money absent an appropriation from Congress.”

“The Constitution assigns to Congress the power of the purse. Under the Appropriations Clause, it is Congress that is to make decisions regarding how to spend taxpayer dollars,” 9th Circuit Judges Richard Clifton and Michelle Friedland wrote. “Congress did not appropriate money to build the border barriers Defendants seek to build here. Congress presumably decided such construction at this time was not in the public interest. It is not for us to reach a different conclusion.”

(Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Environmental and border groups opposing the diversion of the funds had a “strong likelihood” of succeeding in their efforts, the majority argued in the opinion. But Francisco countered that arguments that the groups would bring a lawsuit are “demonstrably incorrect” as is the ruling that the $2.5 billion in construction funds from the Department of Defense could not be transferred to the Department of Homeland Security.

“At a minimum, the lopsided balance of the equities favors staying the injunction pending appeal. 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,” the filing stated.

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan allowed until next Friday for the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, the groups that filed the injunction, to respond to the administration’s request for a stay. But the organizations seem poised to continue their fight, as expressed in statements following the Justice Department’s request.

“The courts have twice ruled against Trump’s requests to stay this important court order stopping construction of his ruinous wall. Now he is asking the Supreme Court to step in and save his wall, but we will continue to vehemently fight these tactics,” Sierra Club attorney Gloria Smith said in a statement.

The groups will “continue to defend the Constitution’s clearly defined separation of powers, which the Supreme Court has recognized for centuries,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Dror Ladin said.


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