The US Supreme Court on Friday handed President Donald Trump a victory by letting his administration redirect US$2.5 billion in money approved by Congress for the Pentagon to help build his promised wall along the US-Mexico border even though lawmakers refused to provide funding.
The conservative-majority court on a 5-4 vote with the court's liberals in dissent blocked in full a ruling by a federal judge in California barring the Republican President from spending the money on the basis that Congress did not specifically authorise the funds to be spent on the wall project fiercely opposed by Democrats and Mexico's government.
"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 tweeted just minutes after the court acted.
A brief order explaining the court's decision said the government "made a sufficient showing" that the groups challenging the decision did not have grounds to bring a lawsuit.
"Today's decision to permit the diversion of military funds for border wall construction will wall off and destroy communities, public lands, and waters in California, New Mexico, and Arizona," said Gloria Smith, an attorney with environmental group the Sierra Club, which sued to block the funds.
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In a highly unusual move, Trump on February 15 declared a national emergency in a bid to fund the wall without congressional approval, an action Democrats said exceeded his powers under the US Constitution and usurped the authority of Congress.
The administration has said it plans to redirect US$6.7 billion from the Departments of Defense and Treasury toward wall construction under the emergency declaration after failing to convince Congress to provide the money, including the US$2.5 billion in Pentagon funding. Congress earlier failed to provide US$5.7 billion in wall funding demanded by Trump in a showdown in which the President triggered a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government that ended in January.