WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court declined by a 5-4 vote Friday to halt the Trump administration's construction of portions of the border wall with Mexico following a recent lower court ruling that the administration improperly diverted money to the project.
The court's four liberal justices dissented, saying they would have prohibited construction while a court challenge continues, after a federal appeals court ruled in June that the administration had illegally sidestepped Congress in transferring the Defense Department funds.
“The Court’s decision to let construction continue nevertheless I fear, may operate, in effect, as a final judgment,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in a brief dissent for the four liberals.
Last summer, at an earlier stage in the case, the justices also split 5-4 along ideological lines to allow the administration to begin construction using $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds.
Following the latest appeals court ruling, the wall's challengers returned to the high court to ask that construction be halted.
The Trump administration opposed the request and said it would file paperwork in August asking the Supreme Court to hear arguments in the case.
At the time, the money Trump identified included $2.5 billion in Defense Department money, $3.6 billion from military construction funds and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund.
The case before the Supreme Court involved just the $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds. The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the Trump administration on behalf of Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition, has said it will seek to tear down sections of the wall that were built with the money.
“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," Dror Ladin, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said in a statement following the court's order Friday.
The Supreme Court is on break for the summer but does act on certain pressing items. It will begin hearing cases again in October.