High Court ends clash over barrier spending
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court wiped out a lower court ruling Tuesday that had found the House had a right to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration for the use of funds to construct a barrier on the U.S.Mexico border.
The justices also ordered a lower court to declare that the case is now moot and the courts don’t need to decide any remaining substantive issues, since President Joe Biden halted spending on wall construction that President Donald Trump had ordered.
The Supreme Court otherwise didn’t address issues raised in the historic clash between the executive and legislative branches.
The one-paragraph order means the case, once potentially a dramatic separation-of-powers showdown over a president’s ability to spend funds without congressional approval, will leave little lasting mark in the law.
The House had asked the justices to preserve the lower court’s ruling that backed their right to sue, which it said was the first appellate decision between the political branches over the Appropriations Clause since the Constitution was ratified.
The case took years to twist and turn through the lower courts. And the House had pointed out that the ruling was “the product of an exceptional expenditure of judicial and party resources.”
The case started after a dispute between Trump and Congress in late 2018 about funding for border wall construction that caused the government to shut down for more than a month, until Trump relented.
Trump wanted $5 billion in a fiscal 2019 spending bill to build a wall, one of his main campaign promises. Congress only appropriated $1.375 billion for fencing. But after the shutdown, Trump announced plans to transfer up to $8.1 billion from other funds for the border wall construction.
The Democratic-led House argued the move violated the Appropriations Clause in a way that usurps Congress’s authority over spending – and a key part of the lawsuit was whether the House could go to the courts to stop the spending.