The US Supreme Court has cleared the way for President Donald Trump’s administration to begin using billions of dollars in military funds to build parts of a border wall with Mexico.
Friday’s decision by the conservative-majority court clears the way for Trump to make progress on a major 2016 campaign promise heading into his race for a second term.
“Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall. The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows Southern Border Wall to proceed. Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!” Trump said after the announcement.
The Supreme Court’s action reverses the decision of a trial court, which initially froze the funds in May, and an appeals court, which kept that freeze in place earlier this month.
The freeze had prevented the government from tapping approximately $2.5bn in Defense Department money to replace existing sections of barrier in the states of Arizona, California and New Mexico with more robust fencing.
The lawsuit at the Supreme Court was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition. The challengers said the wall would be disruptive to the environment in part because it could worsen flooding problems and have a negative impact on wildlife.
The five justices who lifted the freeze on the money did not give a lengthy explanation for their decision.
But they said among the reasons they were doing so was that the government had made a “sufficient showing at this stage” that those bringing the lawsuit did not have a right to challenge the decision to use the money.
The four liberal justices dissented, with Justice Stephen Breyer saying he would have allowed the government to finalise the contracts for the segments but not begin construction while the lawsuit proceeded.