Jul 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court denies request to halt construction on Trump border wall

President Trump and the border wall in June.
President Trump and the border wall in June. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote on Friday rejected a request from environmental groups to prevent construction of portions of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Why it matters: The ruling lets the administration continue building despite pending appeals to a case on whether the administration can use Defense Department funding for border wall construction.

  • "Friday’s order means the court is not likely even to consider the substance of the issue until after the November election, while work on the wall continues," the AP writes, noting the court will begin hearing cases again in October.

Context: A federal appeals court ruled last month that the administration's use of defense funding for the project was an illegal breach of executive authority. The Trump administration said it would ask the Supreme Court to hear arguments in the case in August, per AP.

  • The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote last July that the Pentagon could redirect $2.5 billion to build President Trump's long-promised southern border wall.

What they're saying: Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, dissented.

  • "The Court's decision to let construction continue nevertheless, I fear, may operate in effect, as a final judgment," Breyer wrote.
  • "As the government previously explained, halting the construction process during litigation imposes significant costs on DoD, which can be required to reimburse its contractors for the additional expenses that such a delay causes them to incur," government lawyers argued, according to CNN.

The bottom line: Friday's decision is a win for Trump, who has made the wall a cornerstone of his presidency and reelection bid.

  • It is a loss for the environmental organizations, represented by the ACLU and Sierra Club, which believe the wall will harm natural habitats along the border.
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