The Supreme Court gave the Trump administration a temporary win as it allotted a few more weeks for the administration to try to keep undocumented immigrants from the census count, which will be used to restructure congressional districts next year.
The court heard arguments on Nov. 30 regarding the exclusion of those who are in the country unlawfully with regard to determining each state’s share of the 435 House seats, USA Today reported.
The decision was unsigned, but the three liberal justices dissented and said the policy was unlawful.
“At present, this case is riddled with contingencies and speculation that impede judicial review,” the court’s majority opinion said.
“To begin with, the policy may not prove feasible to implement in any manner whatsoever, let alone in a manner substantially likely to harm any of the plaintiffs here.”
The majority added, “Everyone agrees by now that the government cannot feasibly implement the memorandum by excluding the estimated 10.5 million aliens without lawful status.”
Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the other two liberal justices and himself, said the court needed to strike down the policy now.
“The plain meaning of the governing statutes, decades of historical practice, and uniform interpretations from all three branches of government demonstrate that aliens without lawful status cannot be excluded from the decennial census solely on account of that status,” Breyer said.
“The government’s effort to remove them from the apportionment base is unlawful, and I believe this court should say so.”
The justices will have to hear and decide the case quickly in order to stay on track with the 2020 census process. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ census report is due on Dec. 31 and Trump has 10 days after receiving it to report to Congress the number of House seats each state is allotted.
The Census finished counting the population in October and is expected to deliver results by the end of the year.
“For the purpose of the reapportionment of Representatives following the 2020 census, it is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status under the Immigration and Nationality Act,” the memo said.
“Excluding these illegal aliens from the apportionment base is more consonant with the principles of representative democracy underpinning our system of Government.”
The memo added, “Affording congressional representation, and therefore formal political influence, to States on account of the presence within their borders of aliens who have not followed the steps to secure a lawful immigration status under our laws undermines those principles.”
The Supreme Court took up the case after a coalition of 22 states, led by New York, sued the Trump administration after it announced the policy.
If the plan is implemented, states like California could lose seats in the House of Representatives. The policy could also alter how $1.5 trillion in federal funds is distributed, according to USA Today.
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