The US Supreme Court has given Donald Trump and his Administration (at the very least) a temporary victory. Yesterday it issued a stay on a lower court ruling that blocked the use of unused military funds to Build the Wall.
The decision was divided 5-4 among the usual suspects with the majority’s case amounting to standing.
“…this seems to be a purely a procedural ruling suggesting that the majority justices think the plaintiffs in the case—the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Community Coalition an alliance of various liberal/progressive groups in the border area—lacked the procedural right to challenge the diversion of funds.”
The majority never address the legality of the diversion of existing appropriations by congress, leaving that instead to the lower courts to resolve. This means that it’s not over by a long shot. Nor should it be, because while I believe this is a national emergency and we need a wall, this methodology for funding is suspect.
And there are other challenges as well.
The lower court rulings in this case—and therefore, also, today’s Supreme Court ruling—also do not consider a range of other important issues raised in the wall litigation. They include whether the situation at the border qualifies as “national emergency” under the National Emergencies Act of 1976 (whose invocation was necessary to trigger the use of some of the funds Trumps wants to access, but not those at stake in this particular case), and whether the president has the authority to use eminent domain to seize property for border wall construction not specifically authorized by Congress. These questions are likely to be considered at least some of the many other wall-related cases pending before various federal courts.
It is unlikely any of this will get resolved in Trump’s first term. There is little chance of the stay lasting long enough for contracts to be filled and construction to continue. Although, we’ve seen some impressive things happen on the southern border once we get the government out of the way.
Which makes it another “it” issue for 2020 on a topic that is currently the biggest concern for Americans: immigration and border security.