SCOTUS remands border wall case to lower courts, citing ‘changed circumstances’

As President Joe Biden remains committed to undoing the bulk of former President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda, the U.S. Supreme Court this week has ordered lower courts to take a fresh look at earlier decisions which halted spending on the latter’s southern border wall, citing changed circumstances arising from the current commander in chief’s moves to thwart further construction, according to The Hill.

The controversy in the case centered around roughly $3.6 billion in funding that Trump had previously diverted from the Pentagon in order to facilitate building of the wall, a move that federal courts in the 9th Circuit declared improper last October, as Fox News noted at the time.

Upon taking office, Biden took executive action negating Trump’s re-allocation of funds and returned unspent wall monies to the military for use on more than 60 construction projects at military installations both at home and abroad, also issuing an executive order prohibiting any further work on the barrier at the border.

By vacating the lower court rulings “in light of the changed circumstances” initiated by Biden, the justices also set the stage for another facet of litigation related to the wall, namely, the battle over a challenge from parties who assert that the government is now responsible for remediating damage caused by wall construction already undertaken.

The Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition are among those seeking relief stemming from the alleged harm of prior construction, solutions which they say could include dismantling of the existing structure, addressing disruptions to local wildlife, and more, as The Hill added.

While those organizations may laud the decision to send the matter back to the lower courts for further review, it could prove to be a double-edged sword in that it could raise questions about the proper limits of executive power and may ultimately weaken the ability of the current president to make use of emergency declarations.

It is also worth noting that the Supreme Court earlier this year acceded to a Biden administration request to scuttle planned arguments in another case in which the diversion of military funds for wall construction was challenged, according to The Epoch Times.

In support of that ask, the Biden administration explained that “The President has directed the Executive Branch to undertake an assessment of ‘the legality of the funding and contracting methods used to construct the wall,’” adding that “it would therefore be appropriate for the court to hold further proceedings in this case in abeyance to allow for the completion of the process that the president has directed,” The Hill noted.

Given the unprecedented rise in illegal migrant apprehensions in recent months and the shocking scenes last month of tens of thousands of Haitians amassed under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, that the basic wisdom of erecting barriers to further entry is even in question is something that remains a source of enduring frustration for conservatives everywhere.