The Trump agenda was dealt another setback heading into this weekend. On Friday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling upholding a previous lower court conclusion that found that President Donald Trump’s redirection of billions of dollars of military construction money for his southern border wall was illegal. In conjunction with their earlier ruling, the lower court paused the official order demanding a stop to border wall construction while the appeals process played out further. Now, the appeals court has lifted that pause, re-instituting the demand for an immediate stop to border wall construction. The ordered stop to construction seems to cover most if not the entirety of the “wall,” since the illegally transferred money is what the administration had been using.
One of the original filings against the Trump administration that has driven this court battle was a request for the Defense and Homeland Security departments to be barred “from using military construction funds appropriated for other purposes to build a border wall.” After Congress failed to provide the wall money that he wanted, Trump declared a national emergency over the situation at the southern border and used his subsequent emergency powers as an excuse to transfer the Defense Department money to the border wall project. This emergency declaration was unfounded, and both chambers of Congress have twice passed joint measures to overturn it — and Trump has vetoed both of them.
Gloria Smith, who serves as the managing attorney at the Sierra Club — which is one of the groups that challenged the administration in court over the wall funding scheme — lauded the new appeals court ruling as “monumental for border communities, wildlife and lands.” She added:
‘We should be protecting communities, our democracy, and the environment, not tearing these things apart as Trump was doing. We rise with border communities to stop this administration from further inflicting its relentless agenda and will continue fighting illegal wall construction at all levels.’
The battle over the border wall construction doesn’t seem to be over. After all, there’s the apparent option for the Trump administration to appeal the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which currently has 8 members following the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This past July, a three-judge panel on the same federal appeals court ruled that the Trump administration had violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution via their financing scheme — but then a U.S. Supreme Court ruling blocked that ruling from taking effect.