Supreme Court Requires Lower Courts to Exclude Illegal Aliens From Census Count

Supreme Court Requires Lower Courts to Exclude Illegal Aliens From Census Count
The U.S. Census logo appears on census materials received in the mail with an invitation to fill out census information online in San Anselmo, Calif., on March 19, 2020. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matthew Vadum

Following its ruling earlier this month that allowed the Trump administration to remove illegal aliens from the 2020 Census count, the Supreme Court on Dec. 28 threw out two lower court decisions that went the other way, that barred the government from eliminating that population from the process of allocating congressional seats and Electoral College votes that officially determine the presidency.

In the cases Trump v. Useche from Maryland and Trump v. City of San Jose, California, the Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the lower courts, sending the cases back to those courts “with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.”

The unsigned order didn’t explain why the court acted at this time, but referenced its 6–3 decision on Dec. 18 in Trump v. New York.

In Trump v. New York, the Supreme Court punted on some of the legal issues raised, allowing the Trump administration to try to implement its counting policy for now, even though processing of 2020 Census data is expected to wrap up in coming weeks. Existing law requires the president to file a mandatory reapportionment report with Congress, which could lead to reduced federal funding in states with large illegal-alien populations.

The Trump administration wanted illegal aliens removed from the decennial census count to prevent them from having an impact on the apportionment of political power among the states.

States and local governments, including so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials, sued to prevent the administration’s plan from moving forward. They argued that President Donald Trump was attempting to interfere with the count and prevent Democratic-leaning areas with large illegal-alien populations from gaining congressional seats.

But in the Dec. 18 decision, the high court found that their challenge was premature because they couldn’t demonstrate any so-called concrete injury they might suffer. And it left open the possibility of further challenges in the future, acknowledging the Trump administration may have difficulty implementing its policy.

“At present, this case is riddled with contingencies and speculation that impede judicial review,” the court stated.

The three liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, dissented in the two rulings on Dec. 28 for the same reasons they dissented from the court’s ruling in Trump v. New York.

In that dissent, Breyer wrote, “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.”

After the court acted on Dec. 28, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he disagreed with the new ruling in Trump v. City of San Jose.

“A complete, accurate census is about ensuring all our voices are heard and that our states get their share of resources to protect the health and well-being of all of our communities,” he said in a statement.

“We remain committed to the core principle that everyone counts. Here in California, we’ll continue to stand up for each and every person who calls our state home.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who has declared victory in the still-contested presidential contest, has said he plans to nominate Becerra, a Democrat, to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

P. Benjamin DeWitt Duke of Covington & Burling, the counsel of record for litigant Natalia Useche in the other case, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from The Epoch Times.

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