The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order on Wednesday granting the Trump administration’s request to stay the injunction that U.S. District Court Judge David Briones, based in El Paso, Texas, issued last month. The three-judge appeals court panel split along ideological lines, with two Republican appointees voting to temporarily set aside the injunction and the sole Democratic appointee dissenting. The 5th Circuit panel’s majority did not provide a detailed explanation, but noted that last July the Supreme Court stayed a similar injunction issued by a federal judge in Oakland, Calif.
Judges Edith Jones, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, and Andrew Oldham, a Trump appointee, also said there was a “substantial likelihood” that the plaintiffs in the Texas-based suit — the city of El Paso and the Border Network for Human Rights — lacked legal standing to pursue their claims that Trump’s planned spending violated appropriations limits imposed by Congress.
Last February, following a budget standoff with Congress and a partial government shutdown, Trump declared a national emergency and announced a plan to use about over $6 billion in military construction and counterdrug appropriations to finance border wall spending. The move came after Congress agreed to spend only $1.375 billion in the last fiscal year for border wall improvements, billions less than Trump was demanding.
Trump’s actions triggered lawsuits from various quarters, including border groups, environmentalists, 20 states and the Democrat-led House of Representatives. The House’s effort to challenge Trump’s border wall spending was rejected by a District Court judge in Washington. The D.C. Circuit is now considering an appeal of that decision.
Last May, a judge in Oakland blocked Trump from tapping an initial $2.5 billion in military construction funds, ruling that the move defied Congress’ constitutional power over federal spending. A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel refused to lift that injunction. Last July, however, the Supreme Court set aside the injunction entirely while the appeal in that case continues.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the Texas case said they were disappointed by the 5th Circuit’s move, stating;
A court has already determined that the government can’t lawfully use military construction funds to build Trump’s border wall. It’s unfortunate that the people of El Paso will continue to suffer harm while the government appeals, but we’re confident that we’ll prevail again in this next stage of litigation.
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