In a 5-4 ruling, with Justice Roberts joining the conservative wing this time, the Supreme Court refused on Friday to lift a stay order that allows the Trump administration to redirect some $2.5 billion in Pentagon funds to build the president's border wall. The ACLU, Sierra Club, and Southern Border Communities Coalition had petitioned the court to block construction of the wall while so-called concerns about the environment and the use of diverted funds play out in court.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Breyer harped about the court's refusal to lift the stay, calling it "a final judgment" in effect since the portion of the wall under question may very well be constructed by the time the underlying legal challenges are adjudicated. The court's other liberals, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor also dissented.
Ginsburg, 87, was released from the hospital on Friday following a procedure to "revise a bile duct stent," a court spokesperson said in a statement.
In June, a federal appeals court ruled that the Trump administration lacked the authority to reallocate funding from the Department of Defense to build the border wall. But the ruling had no impact since the Supreme Court had issued its stay the year before.
The Justice Department argued that halting border wall construction until legal challenges made their way through the court system could impose significant costs to the government, which may be required to reimburse contractors for additional expenses resulting from any delay.
In Mar. 2019, the Department of Defense authorized $1 billion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction of 57 miles of new border wall. And in May 2019, then Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved an additional $1.5 billion in Pentagon funds to construct an additional 80 miles of wall along the southern border.