Trump can't divert military funds for border wall, federal appeals court says

Trump loses US  Mexico border dispute In Court

On Friday, judges for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it was unlawful for the Trump administration to transfer Department of Defense money, specifically military pay and pension funds, for border wall construction. In the 2-1 ruling, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel found that the administration defied the Congress' constitutional authority over federal funds.

"There was no unanticipated crisis at the border", Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas, a Clinton appointee wrote, joined by Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, also a Clinton appointee.

Between the lines: A Supreme Court ruling in July did not determine whether the administration's transfer of Pentagon funds was legal; it lifted a 9th Circuit Court injunction that froze military fund transfers, per the Post.

Whether the rulings will stand is uncertain.

The administration took hold of the military fund a year ago after Congress refused to allocate money for the wall.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra praised the appeals court's ruling.

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The decision upheld a ruling by a federal judge in California who previous year found that the Trump administration's funding scheme was against the law. The center has a separate lawsuit pending against the administration's use of military funding for the project. The Trump administration also has argued in recent months that security at the southern border is a crucial element of preventing further influx of the coronavirus, though the outbreak within the United States is by far the worst in the world. Both suits charged that the wall would harm the environment, including endangered species.

In two viewpoints, the ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a coalition of border states and environmental teams that contended the income transfer was illegal and that creating the wall would pose environmental threats. Other funds came from congressional appropriations to stop drug smuggling. The plaintiffs alleged that the Trump administration's decision to divert funds that had been appropriated under the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2019 via the declaration of an emergency was unlawful and unconstitutional. Drug smuggling at the border was neither a new nor an unforeseen problem, the majority said. Trump appointed the dissenting judge.

The state of California and the Sierra Clubpraised Friday's decisions.

"Today, the court reminded the president - once again - that no one is above the law", Becerra said.

The administration had already redirected around $US3.6 billion designated for military construction toward the border wall in 2019 after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in which he claimed that criminal activity was being facilitated by travel across the border. "They deserve to know that their hard-earned dollars go where Congress intended: to benefit them and their communities".

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