The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from the calculations used to allocate seats in the House of Representatives.
“At present, this case is riddled with contingencies and speculation that impede judicial review,” the court said in an unsigned 7-page opinion.
The Supreme Court added that the challenge from New York state was premature.
“Consistent with our determination that standing has not been shown and that the case is not ripe, we express no view on the merits of the constitutional and related statutory claims presented. We hold only that they are not suitable for adjudication at this time,” the court continued.
In a 6 to 3 vote, the three liberal justices who dissented said that the effort to exclude people in the country from the population for the apportionment of House seats is unlawful.
“The government has announced a policy to exclude aliens without lawful status from the apportionment base for the decennial census,” wrote Justice Stephen Breyer. “The government does not deny that, if carried out, the policy will harm the plaintiffs.”
According to USA Today, the quick decision in a case argued Nov. 30 signaled the court’s hope that it can avoid a more consequential ruling on an issue that could affect the balance of political power in Congress for the next decade.
Last July, President Donald Trump announced his intention to exclude up to 10.5 million undocumented immigrants from the tabulation on the theory that they are not permanent residents and do not merit political representation.
“My administration will not support giving congressional representation to aliens who enter or remain in the country unlawfully, because doing so would create perverse incentives and undermine our system of government,” Trump said in a written statement at the time.
“The president, to be sure, has made clear his desire to exclude aliens without lawful status from the apportionment base. But the president qualified his directive by providing that the secretary should gather information ‘to the extent practicable’ and that aliens should be excluded ‘to the extent feasible.’ Any prediction how the Executive Branch might eventually implement this general statement of policy is ‘no more than conjecture’ at this time,’ the court stated in its decision.
“Everyone agrees by now that the government cannot feasibly implement the memorandum by excluding the estimated 10.5 million aliens without lawful status,” the majority said.
New York Attorney General Letitia James led a coalition of 19 states, 10 cities, and five counties in filing the lawsuit against President Trump and others after they announced that they would leave millions of undocumented immigrants out of the apportionment base that follows the decennial census count.
In a statement, AG James vowed to continue protecting the census because Trump’s plan was illegal and unconstitutional.
“President Trump’s efforts to pick and choose who to include in the apportionment base of the census is as illegal today as it was when he made this announcement. All today’s decision does is kick the can down the road until this lame-duck president knows whether he will receive the data he needs to violate the Constitution and the Census Act with the few weeks he has left in office,” James said. “The law is clear — every person residing in the U.S. during the census, regardless of legal status, must be counted — and any further efforts by the president or his administration to violate the law will be met with fierce opposition, and we are confident we will win. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to stop the president from putting politics above the law.”
Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement that the court did not rule for Trump.
“This Supreme Court decision is only about timing, not the merits,” he said. “The legal mandate is clear — every single person counts in the census, and every single person is represented in Congress. If this policy is ever actually implemented, we’ll be right back in court challenging it.” (Momar G. Visaya/AJPress)