SCOTUS throws out lower-court decision halting Trump plan to exclude illegals from Census apportionment

President Trump won one at the Supreme Court yesterday as six justices voted to dismiss a lawsuit against his plan to exclude illegal aliens from Census calculations for purposes of apportioning House seats.  The unsigned decision can be read here.  Adam Liptak of the New York Times writes:

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's plan to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the calculations used to allocate seats in the House, saying it was premature.

The court's ruling handed the administration an interim victory, allowing it to continue to pursue an effort that could shift the allotment of both congressional seats and federal money to states that are older, whiter and typically more Republican.

"At present," the court said in an unsigned opinion, "this case is riddled with contingencies and speculation that impede judicial review."

"We express no view on the merits of the constitutional and related statutory claims presented," the opinion said. "We hold only that they are not suitable for adjudication at this time."

In other words, the decision rests on timing and standing – the very criteria used to shoot down a number of Trump challenges to election law revisions and election practices.

A three-judge panel in the Federal District Court in Manhattan had decided in favor of the plaintiff, New York State, but the six justices disagreed, though the three liberal justices dissented.  The language of the decision clearly leaves the door open for future litigation, however, and the groups that insist people who are here illegally deserve representation in Congress vow to continue to litigate:

Dale Ho, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents some of the challengers, said the ruling was a temporary setback.

"This Supreme Court decision is only about timing, not the merits," he said in a statement. "This ruling does not authorize President Trump's goal of excluding undocumented immigrants from the census count used to apportion the House of Representatives."

If Trump's challenges to election fraud fail and Joseph Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States, the case becomes moot, because a Biden administration would undoubtedly reverse the memorandum on which the policy is based.  But even if Trump serves a second term, the court challenges may succeed.  Ian Millhiser writes in Vox:

Three justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — dissented in New York and would have struck down Trump's policy. And at oral arguments in New York, two other justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, indicated that, in Kavanaugh's words, there are "forceful constitutional and statutory arguments" against Trump's position. So that means there are likely to be at least five votes to strike down Trump's plans to exclude undocumented immigrants [sic] if this issue reaches the justices again.

Barring surprises, it is likely that your representation in Congress will be diluted by representatives for those who scorn our jurisdiction and are here in violation of the laws of the land.

Image credit: Mark Thomas via Pixabay  license.

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