On Friday a federal appellate court ruled against the Trump administration in its transfer of $2.5 billion from military construction projects to use to construct sections of the U.S. border wall with Mexico. The court ruled that the administration illegally sidestepped Congress. Congress gets the final say on how these types of funds are spent.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a coalition of border states and environmental groups, which contended that the money transfer was unlawful and that constructing the wall would be a great environmental threat.
Trump’s administration has already awarded a large portion of the money. Reportedly, $1.3 billion of the funding went to wall construction in Arizona. Trump visited Arizona last week where he held a campaign rally in Phoenix. Trump visited the border wall for a few minutes with a group of officials where he signed a section of the wall for a photo op.
After $2.5 billion transfer of military funds, the Pentagon then diverted another $3.6 billion that an appeals court in New Orleans ruled in January could be spent.
“The funds that he is pilfering, which were appropriated by Congress, are vital to support the safety and well-being of the brave men and women in uniform, as well as their families,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the court’s ruling.
The 9th Circuit ruled that Trump and his administration lacked the necessary authority to authorize the transfer of the funds. The court wrote that the administration also “also violated an express constitutional prohibition designed to protect individual liberties.”
The final vote on the ruling was 2-1. Judges appointed by former President Bill Clinton in the majority and a Trump nominee dissenting.
The panel also ruled that the Trump administration failed to prove that the construction of the border wall would in any way halt the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued on behalf of Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition, said in a statement that if the Trump administration appeals the court’s decision it will go to the Supreme Court and seek to have the wall that was built with military funds torn down.
“There’s no undoing the damage that’s been done, but we will be back before the Supreme Court to finally put a stop to this destructive wall,” said ACLU staff attorney Dror Ladin.