Supreme Court allows Trump to use military funds for border wall construction

/ CBS/AP

The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the Trump administration to tap Pentagon funds to build sections of a border wall with Mexico.

The Supreme Court said Friday that it would lift a freeze on the money put in place by a lower court. The Supreme Court's action means the Trump administration can tap the funds and begin work on four contracts it has awarded. Four liberal justices wouldn't have allowed construction to start.

The court said in its opinion that it had to assess the competing claims in considering whether it would grant a stay of the lower court's freeze. Granting the stay might "cause irreparable harm to the environment," while denying it could irreparably harm the government. The administration had claimed that if failed to finalize its contracts for construction before Sept. 30, which is the end of the fiscal year, the funds would be returned to the Treasury.

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To avoid irreparable harm to both sides, the court decided to allow the administration to finalize its contracts but not to begin construction.

A trial court initially froze the funds in May and an appeals court kept that freeze in place earlier this month. The freeze had prevented the government from tapping approximately $2.5 billion in Defense Department money to replace existing sections of barrier in Arizona, California and New Mexico with more robust fencing.

First published on July 26, 2019 / 6:58 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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