July 3 (UPI) -- The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected the Trump administration's allocation of $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense to pay for construction of physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The appeals court ruled 2-1 against the lifting of a lower court's decision to block President Donald Trump's move to use money allocated for Army personnel needs on border wall construction stating, "the use of those funds violates the constitutional requirement that the Executive Branch not spend money absent an appropriation from Congress."
The decision comes after the Trump administration issued an emergency request to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift a stay placed on a lower court injunction.
The Trump administration had attempted to reallocate the funds from the Department of Defense to the Department of Homeland Security through a provision that allowed military construction funds to be spent on unforeseen military requirements.
The reallocation occurred after Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border in order to siphon the funds from the Department of Defense after having signed budget legislation in which Congress assigned a fraction of the funds his administration had requested for border wall construction.
In the decision, Circuit Judges Richard Clifton and Michelle Friedland said the attempt to move those funds violated federal law and circumvented Congress's power of the nation's money.
"The Constitution assigns to Congress the power of the purse," the judges said in the decision. "Under the Appropriations Clause, it is Congress that is to make decisions regarding how to spend taxpayer dollars."
The judges said the need for the funds was not "unforeseen" and had previously been denied by Congress.
Dror Ladin, staff attorney with the America Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project, said in a statement that the president needs to now accept that the American people don't want the wall.
"Congress and now two courts have said no to border wall funds," Ladin said. "For the sake of our democracy and border communities, it's time the president come to terms with the fact that America rejected his xenophobic wall -- and move on."
The ruling follows a lawsuit brought by the ACLU on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition in March challenging Trump's emergency declaration.
"Today's 9th Circuit ruling upholds the basic notion that only Congress can appropriate funds," said Gloria Smith, managing attorney at the Sierra Club. "We've seen the damage that the ever-expanding border wall has inflicted on communities and the environment for decades. Walls divide neighborhoods, worsen dangerous flooding, destroy lands and wildlife, and waste resources that should instead be used on the infrastructure border communities truly need."