By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court declined to stop work on the border wall the Trump administration has been building without authorization from Congress, likely ensuring that more than 200 miles of the president’s signature project will be completed before a dispute over its legality is resolved, the Wall Street Journal reports. Lower courts had found that President Donald Trump exceeded his powers by declaring a national emergency and reallocating to the wall project $2.5 billion lawmakers had budgeted for other purposes. More than a year ago, the high court by the same 5-4 vote allowed construction to continue while the government appealed.
Environmental groups, which brought suit to halt construction, warned in their latest motion that unless the justices lifted their 2019 order, they were handing the administration “a complete victory despite having lost in every court.” On Friday, Justice Stephen Breyer filed a two-paragraph dissent, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Breyer said the decision “to let construction continue nevertheless, I fear, may ‘operate, in effect, as a final judgment’” for the government. The White House said the new court decision means that “special interest groups likely lack any cause of action to sue the Department of Defense from transferring funds, and the Trump Administration should be allowed to build the wall and protect our country while litigation proceeds.” The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, alleged that the wall would damage environmentally sensitive areas along the U.S.-Mexico border.