The Supreme Court cleared the way Friday for the Trump administration to tap billions of dollars in Pentagon funds to build sections of a border wall with Mexico. The court's five conservative justices gave the administration the green light to begin work on four contracts it has awarded using Defense Department money, the AP reports. Funding for the projects had been frozen by lower courts while a lawsuit over the money proceeded. The court's four liberal justices wouldn't have allowed construction to start. The justices' decision to lift the freeze on the money allows President Trump to make progress on a major 2016 campaign promise heading into his race for a second term. Trump tweeted after the announcement: "Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall. The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows Southern Border Wall to proceed. Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!"
The Supreme Court's action reverses the decision of a trial court, which initially froze the funds in May, and an appeals court, which kept that freeze in place earlier this month. The money Trump identified includes $3.6 billion from military construction funds, $2.5 billion in DOD money, and $600 million from the Treasury Department's asset forfeiture fund. The case before the Supreme Court involved just the $2.5 billion in DOD funds, which the administration says will be used to construct more than 100 miles of fencing. The freeze had prevented the government from tapping that DOD money to replace existing sections of barrier in Arizona, California, and New Mexico with more robust fencing. ACLU lawyer Dror Ladin said after the court's announcement that the fight "is not over." The case will continue, but the Supreme Court's decision suggests an ultimate victory for the ACLU is unlikely. Even if the ACLU were to win, fencing will have already been built. (More border wall stories.)