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Supreme Court hands Trump win, refuses to stop border wall construction

Environmentalists led by the Sierra Club had sought to block the construction while legal battles persist.

Updated: August 3, 2020 - 8:54am

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The Supreme Court handed President Trump another victory on his signature immigration agenda Friday, refusing by a 5-4 vote to temporarily block construction of a wall at the southern border with Mexico.

Groups like the Sierra Club and the American Civil Liberties Union had asked the court for a temporary stoppage of construction while they argue their case that the administration illegally transferred $2.5 billion in funding to the project from the Pentagon. But led by its conservative bloc, the high court refused the request.

The four liberal justices dissented, suggesting construction could be far advanced before the legal issues were settled. In all, the Trump administration has completed about 240 miles of wall construction and reconstruction. In the latest phase, about 92 miles of a 129-mile section of wall the administration is seeking to build as a replacement for fencing is already complete as Trump rushes to complete one of his signature campaign promises from 2016.

"The Court’s decision to let construction continue nevertheless, I fear, may 'operate, in effect, as a final judgment,'” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the dissent.

You can read the ruling here.

The Trump administration plans to continue construction while asking the court later in August to review an appeals court ruling this month that concluded the funding transfer was improper. The decision Friday means the Supreme Court likely won't decide the issue until well after November's election.

The opposing groups vowed Friday to press on with the case, saying they will seek to tear down the wall if they win.

“Every lower court to consider the question has ruled President Trump’s border wall illegal, and the Supreme Court’s temporary order does not decide the case. We’ll be back before the Supreme Court soon to put a stop to Trump’s xenophobic border wall once and for all,” said Dror Ladin, an ACLU staff attorney. 

Friday's ruling was one of several from the high court favoring Trump on the border wall in recent years. In June, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a case challenging the wall on environmental grounds. And last years, the court issued a ruling allowing Trump to allocate money for the wall.

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