A law signed by President Clinton allows the executive branch to bypass environmental laws for construction of barriers near the border
Monday, the Supreme Court said it would not hear a challenge brought by environmental groups against the Trump administration concerning the construction of the border wall. The complaint alleged construction of the border wall would violate environmental laws and threaten endangered species.
In 1996, President Clinton signed a law allowing the “the executive branch with authority to waive environmental laws if those laws impede construction of barriers and roads near the border,” according to CNBC.
The law was expanded by Congress in 2005 to give the Department of Homeland Security authority to waive “all legal requirements” that could stand in the way of border construction.
The environmental groups said that the government’s ability to waive the laws is unconstitutional. The justices did not issue a ruling on that matter.
But because they will not hear the case, a February ruling by a federal judge in San Diego will remain in place.
That ruling in favor of the government was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel. In 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump said the Indiana-born judge could not be impartial in a case concerning Trump University because he was “Mexican.” But, in February, Trump cheered Curiel’s ruling as a legal victory.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, Defenders of Wildlife and Center for Biological Diversity were supported in their case by a coalition including nine Democratic members of the House of Representatives and the libertarian think tank The Cato Institute.
Among the Democrats urging the justices to take the case was Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Texan who has floated the possibility of a 2020 presidential run.
The Center for Biological Diversity has said that construction of a 2,000 mile wall along America’s southern border represents a “looming tragedy for the region’s diverse wildlife and people, as well as its rugged and spectacular landscapes.”
Trump has continued pressuring lawmakers to ensure a wall along the southern border is funded in the next budget and has threatened drastic immigration stagnation if funding is not granted.
From the Miami Herald:
Congressional leaders introduced a two-week funding bill Monday to avert a partial government shutdown over President Donald Trump’s border wall, as business in the Capitol came to a standstill for ceremonies honoring former President George H.W. Bush.
The stopgap measure would keep the government funded through Dec. 21, two weeks after a Friday deadline when funding for a portion of the government, including the Department of Homeland Security, is set to expire.
The measure comes as Trump kept up pressure Monday on congressional Democrats to fund his promised border wall and threatened other actions to deter illegal immigration as negotiations continue.
“We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall,” Trump tweeted without evidence Monday. “Either way, people will NOT be allowed into our Country illegally! We will close the entire Southern Border if necessary.”
House leaders canceled roll call votes this week for ceremonies honoring Bush, who died Friday, meaning an extension will be needed to avert a funding lapse.
While Democrats prefer a one-week extension, they signaled they would not object to a two-week delay. Trump made clear over the weekend he would agree to a short-term funding extension to allow for ceremonies honoring Bush.
Democrats have little interest in providing the $5 billion Trump wants for the southern border, and with the party set to take control of the House in the new year, opposition to the wall has hardened.
Even some Republicans balk at spending more than the $1.6 billion for fencing and other security improvements already provided. But Trump has signaled he’s ready to fight for the money as one of the last big-ticket items of the GOP-led Congress before Democrats take over the House following a decisive victory in the midterm elections.
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