Appeals Court Rules Trump’s Border Wall Illegal, Blocks Further Construction


Ian Brickey,

SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last night ruled that President Trump’s use of emergency powers to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funds for the border wall is unlawful. The ruling came in a lawsuit, Sierra Club v. Trump, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition challenging President Trump’s abuse of emergency powers to build a border wall using funds Congress explicitly denied. Although the district court previously stayed its own injunction blocking these sections of wall, the court of appeals order lifts that stay and requires that construction cease immediately. 

“Today’s decision is monumental for border communities, wildlife and lands. The 9th Circuit court put a stop to Trump’s unconstitutional wall construction with stolen military funds. We should be protecting communities, our democracy, and the environment, not tearing these things apart as Trump was doing,” said Gloria Smith, Managing Attorney at the Sierra Club. “We rise with border communities to stop this administration from further inflicting its relentless agenda-- and will continue fighting illegal wall construction at all levels.”

“The courts have once again confirmed what everyone knows: Trump’s fake ‘national emergency’ was just another pretext for targeting immigrants and border communities,” said Dror Ladin, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “It’s past time for Trump to finally give up on trying to raid the federal budget for his wasteful and illegal project.”

"This is a much welcomed reprieve for border communities who have been trampled and scarred by deadly walls that undermine our binational and multicultural character," said Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition. "Trump's vanity wall has led to the destruction of our environment, risks extinction of endangered wildlife, and has desecrated tribal, sacred lands, all to become a narcissist's campaign prop. We need to put an end to immoral, inhumane and wasteful border policies and usher in a new era where people are safe and where we treat others with dignity and respect."

The district court last year and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year ruled that President Trump’s attempt to circumvent Congress and transfer $2.5 billion in military pay and pension funds for border wall construction is also unlawful. The district court blocked the illegal wall construction, but because of a temporary Supreme Court stay on the district court’s order, the Trump administration has continued construction using funds unauthorized by Congress.

The Supreme Court has not addressed the billions of dollars subject to today’s ruling, which concern different statutory authorities.

President Trump declared a national emergency on February 15, 2019, to secure border wall funds Congress denied him. While declaring the emergency, President Trump stated that he “didn’t need to do this” but he’d prefer to build the wall “much faster.” He added that he declared a national emergency because he was “not happy” that Congress “skimped” on the wall by denying him the billions he demanded.

Construction of the border wall has desecrated tribal lands, leveled wildlife preservations, and destroyed border communities.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit