June 26 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court on Friday ruled the Trump administration doesn't have the authority to divert $2.5 billion in military funds to carry out construction of the border wall.
The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the move violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution because Congress originally designated the funds for defense spending, not the Department of Homeland Security.
"These funds were appropriated for other purposes, and the transfer amounted to 'drawing funds from the Treasury without authorization by statute and thus violating the Appropriations Clause," the majority wrote.
"Therefore, the transfer of funds here was unlawful."
Trump declared a national emergency in February 2019 due to an influx of migrants along the southern border. As part of the declaration, he directed $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense to spend on border security.
He faced multiple lawsuits and attempts to block the emergency declaration in Congress, including a legal challenge by the Sierra Club, which the 9th Circuit ruled on Friday. The organization praised the court's 2-1 ruling.
"Today's decision is monumental for our border communities and desert wildlands," said Gloria Smith, managing attorney for the Sierra Club. "The appeals court ruled against Trump's unconstitutional wall construction. We should be protecting communities, our democracy, and the environment, not tearing these things apart as Trump hoped to do.
"We rise with border communities to stop this administration from further inflicting its relentless agenda -- harming the people and places we know and love."
Though lower courts ruled against President Donald Trump in the lawsuit, the U.S. Supreme Court in July allowed the administration to begin construction on a section of the border as the battle made its way through the courts.