The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 Friday that President Donald Trump lacked the constitutional authority to transfer Department of Defense (DOD) funds for use in the construction of a wall along the Mexican border. The court found that the transfer of $2.5 billion circumvented Congress, which had previously denied requests for the funding.
The panel affirmed the lower district court’s judgment, “holding that budgetary transfers of funds for the construction of a wall on the southern border of the United States in California and New Mexico were not authorized under the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2019.” They also found that “Congress has repeatedly declined to provide the amount of funding requested by the President” and that there was no “unforeseen military requirement” to justify the transfer.
The court also ruled that California and New Mexico, which are among the 20 states involved in the suit, had “particularized and concrete injuries,” providing sufficient legal standing for them to continue with their claims.
The court also released its opinion Friday in Sierra Club v. Donald Trump, ruling that the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition could also sue over the diversions caused by the border wall.
However, Friday’s rulings may ultimately be a hollow victory for the plaintiffs as the US Supreme Court has already allowed the $2.5 billion to be spent during litigation and has suggested that the nonprofits likely did not have sufficient standing to sue.
Trump and the administration have not yet commented on the decision.