Trump can’t divert defense funds for border wall, federal appeals court rules

The Border Wall

President Donald Trump speaks with Rodney Scott, the U.S. Border Patrol Chief, as he tours a section of the border wall, Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in San Luis, Ariz. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration does not have the authority to transfer defense funds to pay for the border wall, Law360 reported Friday.

The federal appeals on Friday court sided with the Sierra Club, which sued over the transfer of defense funds for the construction of a border wall in California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

The court, in a 2-1 ruling, said that President Donald Trump’s decision to authorize the transfer of 2.5 billion from the Department of Defense for the border wall violated the Appropriations Clause, which exclusively grants the power of the purse to Congress.

Chief Circuit Judge Sidney R. Thomas wrote the opinion for the majority. He said the White House lacked independent constitutional authority to authorize the transfer of funds.

“These funds were appropriated for other purposes, and the transfer amounted to ‘drawing funds from the Treasury without authorization by statute and thus violating the Appropriations Clause,'” Thomas wrote.

According to court documents obtained by Border Report, the Sierra Club argued that the Department of Homeland Security was proceeding with border wall construction without ensuring compliance with any federal or state environmental regulations.

Documents show that the Sierra Club has more the 400,000 members in California; 16,000 in Arizona; and 10,000 in New Mexico.

The court said thousands of those Sierra Club members visit the U.S-Mexico border for hiking, birdwatching, photography, and other professional, scientific, recreational, and aesthetic activities. Additionally, Sierra Club members “obtain recreational, professional, scientific, educational, and aesthetic benefits from their activities in these areas, and from the wildlife dependent upon the habitat in these areas.”

“The construction of a border wall and related infrastructure will acutely injure these interests,” Thomas wrote.

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