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Appeals court says Trump administration can use military funds to build border wall

Plaintiffs lacked damage claims, according to ruling.

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Part of the border wall in Texas
Part of the border wall in Texas
(Jinitzail Hernández/Getty)
Updated: December 5, 2020 - 4:16pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A ruling in a federal appeals court on Friday declared that the Trump administration was within its legal rights to use military funding to bankroll a wall along the southern border, overturning an earlier court decision that declared the administration in violation of the law in doing so.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said in its ruling that both El Paso County and the group Border Network for Human Rights lacked the legal footing to challenge that funding and that neither party was harmed by the measure.

Addressing, for instance, El Paso County’s argument that the administration’s cancellation of a local $20 million federal project constituted an actionable loss of tax revenue for the county, the court argued that “a county’s loss of general tax revenues as an indirect result of federal policy is not a cognizable injury in fact.”

Circuit Judge James Dennis dissented on the ruling, arguing that federal statute “clearly prohibited the redirection of funds that underpins the border-wall construction.”