By Curt Prendergast| Arizona Daily Star
The Trump administration can move forward with a plan to use military funds to build a wall through the San Pedro River and 68 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border, at an estimated cost of at least $1 billion, the Supreme Court ruled Friday.
All told, the Supreme Court decision paved the way for the administration to use $2.5 billion of the Department of Defense’s anti-drug smuggling fund to replace vehicle barriers and old fencing with new 18-foot or 30-foot metal poles on 130 miles of border in Arizona, California and New Mexico.
The decision came after the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition filed a lawsuit in Northern California saying the use of those funds was unlawful and the fencing would irreparably harm the public’s ability to enjoy natural areas near the border.
A federal judge agreed with them and blocked the Pentagon funding on June 28. A panel of 9th Circuit judges upheld the judge’s injunction a few days later.
On Friday, five Supreme Court justices sided with the administration’s argument that the Sierra Club and the community coalition likely did not have a legal right to sue. The groups claimed the administration unlawfully used tax dollars for a purpose Congress had refused to approve.
The effect of the justices’ decision is the Trump administration can start using Pentagon funds to build the fence as it appeals the ruling of the judge in Northern California.