Monday, June 23, 2008

Court Will Not Hear Border Wall Challenge

Today the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a constitutional challenge to the border wall's environmental waivers.

Without comment, the justices refused to consider pleas that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff overstepped his constitutional authority by waiving laws and regulations in order to expedite construction of 670 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Chertoff, invoking authority that he said he was granted by the REAL ID Act of 2005, has waived more than 30 laws in the administration's goal to complete the fencing by Dec. 31. The cabinet secretary has told Congress "it would be impossible" to meet the deadline without invoking the waivers.

The case in question before the high court focused on a two-mile section of fencing in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area near Naco, Ariz. A broader challenge to Chertoff's waiver authority has been filed a federal court in El Paso, but fence opponents acknowledged that the Supreme Court decision was a stunning setback in their efforts to block construction.
It is unclear to me whether wall opponents have any other legal recourse at this point. Moral suasion does not seem to work with this administration, and a legislative remedy seems unlikely. So, in the absence of further obstacles, it seems that construction will go forward.

I have written before about the dangers the wall poses to endangered wildlife along the U.S.-Mexico border, including the Sabal Palm Audubon Center. No Border Wall has more on the environmental impact.