Justices to weigh Trump census plan to exclude noncitizens

SCOTUS Set To Weigh Trump Census Power Grab Before Inauguration

A three-judge federal court panel said in holding the policy illegal that never in USA history have immigrants been excluded from the population count that determines how House seats, and by extension Electoral College votes, are divided among the states.

In July, Mr. Trump issued an order to change this practice, arguing that because "persons" is not explicitly defined, he has the "authority to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status".

The outcome of the census case could affect the distribution of political power for the next 10 years.

The Supreme Court announced plans to review President Trump's anti-immigrant apportionment policy on a timeline that could give him a decision on its legality before, in the event of a Trump defeat this November, he is forced to leave office.

The high court also had the option to affirm or vacate the lower court order from a three-judge panel in NY without agreeing to hold arguments.

But during a hearing on Wednesday, Justice Department attorney John Coghlan told a federal court in Maryland, which is hearing a similar lawsuit over Trump's memo, that the administration does not know what other groups it could feasibly omit from the apportionment counts.

Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberty Union's Voting Rights Project, said he expected the high court would again reject Trump's argument. The legal mandate is clear: "Every single person counts in the census, and every single person is represented in Congress".

"President Trump has repeatedly tried - and failed - to weaponize the census for his attacks on immigrant communities". The administration says it is exploring options such as using other government records to determine how many people to exclude. If Joe Biden wins the election, his administration would not likely adhere to Trump's stated policy. The timing increases the potential for Trump to try to make the unprecedented change to who is included in the numbers while he is in the White House.

The district court said that so long as they reside in the country, undocumented immigrants "qualify as "persons in" a "state" who must be counted.

Texas Republicans have also asked for census data that would allow them to exclude such residents when they redraw the electoral districts for the state Legislature.

By statute, the president sends Congress a report in early January with the population of each state and their entitled number of representatives.

Update:This article and its title have been updated to reflect the new Census deadline of October 15, 2020.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.



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