The US Supreme Court issued an order Friday granting an accelerated argument schedule for a case challenging the Trump administration’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from census counts for allocating congressional seats.
At the behest of President Donald Trump, the Census Bureau began exploring ways to determine the number of undocumented immigrants in each state in July, in an effort to exclude those residents from reapportionment calculations. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia, numerous cities and counties, and a number of civil rights advocacy groups immediately brought lawsuits seeking to block the policy. They argued that the plain text of the US Constitution’s census clause does not permit exclusion based on citizenship, requiring that all “whole persons” in a state be counted for reapportionment and that the legislative and procedural history of the census supports this interpretation. The Trump administration said that it believes that some states, such as California, have received a larger number of seats in the House of Representatives than they would if undocumented immigrants were excluded from the census count.
A three-judge panel of the District Court for the Southern District of New York agreed with the challengers in early September, blocking the Census Bureau from implementing the plan and requiring the Bureau to submit a census count that included undocumented immigrants. The Trump administration immediately appealed to the Supreme Court to reverse the lower court’s ruling. With the rapidly approaching December 31 deadline to submit the results of the census, the Supreme Court has opted for an expedited argument schedule. Oral argument for the case will be held on November 30, with briefs due during the four preceding weeks.
The Supreme Court’s order is the second this week regarding the census. On Tuesday, the Court granted a stay of a Ninth Circuit Court ruling that effectively permitted the Trump administration to end the census count two weeks earlier than scheduled.