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The administration asked the Supreme Court Friday to lift lower court rulings halting President Trump’s border wall emergency, asking to be allowed to begin construction while the case proceeds through those lower courts.
Justice Department lawyers say the lawsuits should be tossed, arguing those who sued don’t have standing to bring the cases in the first place, and besides, they insisted, the administration followed the law in shifting billions of dollars from Pentagon spending to wall construction.
The lawyers said the case is an emergency of sorts, saying the money the Pentagon wants to shift is only available this fiscal year, which ends in three months. They said the high court needs to weigh in now in order to grant access to that money.
The request comes a day after Mr. Trump caved on another legal battle to try to force a citizenship question onto the 2020 census.
The wall, if anything, is an even bigger symbol for the president as he heads into his reelection campaign.
At issue is more than $6 billion in Defense Department money Mr. Trump ordered be shifted within the Pentagon, taking it from construction and drug interdiction accounts and used for wall-building.
Congress debated Mr. Trump’s border request and only gave him $1.375 billion.
Mr. Trump signed that bill but said it shortchanged his demands. He declared a border emergency, using the National Emergencies Act, which allows for money to be shifted to unforeseen emergencies.
But a federal district court in California ruled Mr. Trump’s move overstepped the law, saying the wall issue wasn’t unforeseen.
He halted two different attempts to spend the money.
A federal appeals court has already upheld one of those decisions.
Friday’s request seeks to overcome the blockade.
Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, which sued to stop the emergency declaration, questioned the appeal.
“Trump’s obsession with building his dangerous and deadly wall using illegally diverted military funds is a complete disregard for the checks and balances that are integral to our democracy,” she said.
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