Trump Scores a Win as Court Clears the Way for Border Wall Funding


While facing off against one of the country’s biggest enemies abroad, the White House just scored another tactical victory on the home front — and proved how crucial the president’s power to shape the judiciary system really is.

President Donald Trump on Thursday was celebrating a decision by a panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to lift a lower court order that blocked billions in military construction funds from being used to build up defenses on the southern border.

For Trump, who made controlling illegal immigration the centerpiece of his presidential campaign and has continued that stance throughout his administration, it was a moment of victory in a long-running legal fight — and he had a judge he appointed himself to thank for it.

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According to USA Today, the 5th Circuit’s decision released Wednesday allows the administration to go ahead with its plans to move $3.6 billion in funding allocated for military projects to Trump’s border wall.

The ruling set aside an injunction issued last month by District Judge David Briones in El Paso, Texas, Politico reported.  The Fifth District panel decided the challengers, the city of El Paso and an activist group called the Border Network for Human Rights, lacked legal standing to bring the case.

The 2-1 ruling came from Judges Edith Jones, who was nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1985, and Andrew Oldham, nominated by Trump in 2018.

The dissent was written by Judge Stephen Higginson, an appointee of then-President Barack Obama in 2011.

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The ruling itself contained no details on its reasoning, but cited a Supreme Court decision from last year that lifted a similar injunction issued by a federal judge in Oakland, California, according to Politico.

That case, brought by the environmental group the Sierra Club, was decided in a 5-4 ruling, according to Reuters, with two Trump appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, siding with the administration.

Coming less than a week after the Trump-ordered drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the court victory gave Trump a win at home and abroad in the space of less than seven days.

The appeals court decision might not be the final word on the matter, of course.  Lawyers for the challengers told Politico they haven’t decided their next move.

“We, along with our clients, are considering our options,” attorney Kristy Parker of the watchdog group Protect Democracy told the website.

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“We are confident the District Court‘s ruling is correct. The power of the purse belongs to Congress, and we will continue our fight to enforce the separation of powers our Constitution mandates.”

It’s true that the power of the purse belongs to Congress. But the power to rule on matters of law belongs to the federal judiciary.

And for too long, that judiciary has been largely in the hands of liberal judges who’ve interpreted the Constitution as they see fit, rather than what its words say or where the country is politically.

(In the United States, gay marriage is legal today because of one man — former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy — not because of the Constitution.)

Trump’s impact on the judiciary has already outpaced his predecessors, and could well be the longest-lasting legacy of his years in office — whether they’re 4 or 8.

That take on Wednesday’s ruling wasn’t lost on social media commenters either.

This isn’t an argument for filling the federal court ranks for political toadies — leave that to Democrats like Obama and his appointments of “empathetic” justices like the “wise Latina” Sonia Sotomayor.

In addition to an immigration crackdown, Trump made no secret of wanting to include more conservatives in the court system — his pledge to select Supreme Court justices from a group vetted by the conservative Federalist Society was a key part of his campaign.

Wednesday’s decision, joined by one of Trump’s own appointees at the appellate level, and relying on two of his appointees at the Supreme Court level, shows how important that presidential power really is.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.