What a week it’s been for the Border Wall in court.
Let’s start with the bad news. On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit, in which SWEC is a co-plaintiff, challenging the Trump administration’s waiver of environmental and other laws to expedite wall construction, effectively ending the case. The authority to waive laws for border wall construction, contained in a 2005 law, has enabled Trump to bulldoze Native American burial grounds, dry up precious desert springs and ignore the devastating impacts of the wall on wildlife. The court’s decision highlights just how important it is that we get Congress to repeal this outdated statute once and for all.
Now the good news. Last Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court dealt a major blow to the Trump Administration’s effort to build the wall, when it ruled that the Administration had illegally diverted Defense Department money for wall construction. It was another case in which SWEC is a co-plaintiff, as a member of the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC). The ruling affirmed a lower district court ruling in 2019. In that case the judge ordered that construction be halted, pending a final decision. Unfortunately, construction on the wall continues even after Friday’s ruling because the Supreme Court lifted the previous stay. The question now is whether the administration will appeal the latest decision, or if we go back to the Supreme Court to ask for a stay on construction again.
And the glimmer of hope. In its earlier decision to lift the stay on construction, the Supreme Court relied heavily on the idea that the plaintiffs in the case, including SWEC and its members, were not harmed by the border wall and did not have standing to sue the government. However, in its decision last week, the Circuit Court decisively rejected that argument, ruling that in fact SWEC and its members and other plaintiffs did have standing, so there is some chance that the Supreme Court will reverse itself on this issue.
SWEC will continue fighting to stop this hateful and destructive wall as long as construction continues, and we will be at the forefront of efforts to tear it down under the next administration.
To read a good, in-depth update on the wall, check out this article by Myles Traphagen.