ACLU, Sierra Club, and SBCC Respond to the Biden Administration’s Request to Delay Border Wall SCOTUS Arguments

February 1, 2021 3:30 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration today asked the Supreme Court to delay arguments in Sierra Club v. Trump, a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition. The argument was set for Feb. 22, 2021. The administration has asked the court to remove the case from the February calendar, while they assess “the legality of the funding and contracting methods used to construct the wall.”

“It’s a good start that the Biden administration is not rushing to defend Trump’s illegal wall in court, but just hitting the brakes isn’t enough. Trump’s wall devastated border communities, the environment, and tribal sites,” said Dror Ladin, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “It’s time for the Biden administration to step up for border communities, and commit to mitigating environmental damage and tearing down the wall.”

“We are relieved to see a pause on wall construction while the Biden administration decides whether to defend Trump’s illegal and disastrous national emergency declaration, said Gloria Smith, managing attorney at the Sierra Club. “Ultimately, the destructive border wall must be torn down. Constructing a wall has stripped environmental, cultural and health protections from border communities, bulldozed through Tribal sites and burial grounds, and left irreversible scars on wildlife habitat and local towns. The new administration must implement a new vision for the borderlands — one that protects human rights, Tribal sovereignty and the environment.”

Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, said: “The deadly, wasteful and destructive border wall has not made southern border communities safer, but has led to the devastation of wildlife, loss of life and endangerment of people seeking refuge at our borders. It’s time to rethink how we govern our borders and move away from enforcement only policies, towards a New Border Vision that upholds human rights and dignity for all people who live, work and travel through our borders.”

A district court in 2019 and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2020 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 unlawful. The district court blocked the illegal wall construction, an order that the Ninth Circuit affirmed. However, because of an earlier Supreme Court stay on the district court’s order, the Trump administration continued construction using funds unauthorized by Congress. Trump’s border wall desecrates ancestral and burial lands, destroys protected landscapes, and threatens wildlife. President Biden halted further border wall construction on Jan. 20, 2021.

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