On June 26, a federal appeals court ruled out that President Trump can't use the funds of the military to pay for the undergoing construction and development of the steel border wall on the US-Mexico border. The decision was made days after the President visited a section of the wall in Arizona.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 ruling that the transfer of $2.5 billion circumvented Congress. Congress holds complete authority over the use of government funds.
The legal fight over the Defense Department funds started from Trump's declaration of national emergency on the US-Mexico border in 2019. President Trump then declared the national emergency again in February 2020 even though the arrests of illegal immigrants already decreased, according to The New York Times.
Chief Circuit Judge Sidney Thomas wrote that the Executive Branch did not have the authority to independently authorize the transfer of funds.
The panel also noted that there are Appropriations Clause stated on the U.S Constitution and the clause grants the power of funds transfer to the Congress. The panel stated that the transfer of funds to pay for the wall violated the clause and they deemed the attempted move as unlawful.
Although the ruling was in favor of the environmental groups and states that are questioning the use of military funds, a Supreme Court decision that was issued last year that allows funds to be used is still in effect, but just for the time being.
The American Civil Liberties Union was happy with the decision and stated that Trump's wall reflects his xenophobia. They also stated that the construction of the wall is leveling the country's protected lands, that it is destroying wildlife around the border and it is also desecrating cultural sites.
According to Dror Ladin, a staff attorney with the ACLU's National Security Project, the damage that the wall had done to the environment can't be undone, but they will still fight for the complete stop of the wall's construction and will be back in front of the Supreme Court.
The legality of the wall
The President faced numerous legal battles over the construction of the border wall for the past three years. Trump had also faced criticism over his attempt of using the funds of other government accounts to speed up the construction of the wall.
Despite all of the issues, Trump proudly talked about the progress of the wall and he even went on a trip to visit it this week to celebrate the completion of the 200 miles of new steel wall system, as reported by CNN.
President Trump told officials that his administration has done more than any administration in the history of the United States to secure the country's southern border. He added that the border has never been more secure.
The administration has said that it still intends to build 450 miles by the end of 2020 and if President Trump wins the Presidential Election this November, his administration will continue to add more miles.
In 2019, the Supreme Court made it possible for President Trump to use around $2.5 billion from the funds of the Pentagon in order to build parts of the wall along the southwestern border.
The Supreme Court's decision allowed the Defense Department budget to be used by the Trump administration. The ruling of the Supreme Court was 5-4, and it allowed the funds to be used for the wall while the court appeals continued.