The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling approving the transfer of Pentagon funds for a wall on the Southern border will speed up construction, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan told Fox News over the weekend that the high court's ruling will "accelerate progress on the wall," and allow the agency to "double what we're doing with the congressionally appropriated funding."
The Supreme Court decision stayed lower court rulings that blocked President Donald Trump from transferring $2.5 billion in Pentagon funds for use in building the wall. The president declared a national emergency on the southern border earlier this year, but several states sued to block him from using that declaration to transfer Pentagon funds. "The Supreme Court ultimately said while we haven't resolved this case on the merits for the total this president would like to transfer, we will permit him to use this $2.5 billion," says Robert Charles, former Assistant Secretary of State under President George W. Bush.
While the court's ruling only applies to this portion of wall funding, Charles believes it portends well for the president in the long-term. "The reason I think it is so significant is that it's a 5-4 Supreme Court decision, and that's probably where this ultimately will be decided for the entire wall," he says. "Even Justice Breyer, who is a liberal, essentially said that the executive authority does exist for the president to prepare to spend that money."
A final court ruling on the border wall is likely a ways off, with several legal challenges still pending. In the meantime, this $2.5 billion will be put to use. DHS says 54 miles of new border wall have already been built, and more is on the way. "There will be a top-level transfer done from (the Defense Department) probably over to DHS pursuant to this decision," says Charles. "And I think they could end up with shovels in the ground sometime in October."