Advertisement

Supreme Court tosses suit over excluding migrants from 2020 Census

By
Don Jacobson
Activists rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., during a protest to support the inclusion of immigrants in the 2020 Census. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
Activists rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., during a protest to support the inclusion of immigrants in the 2020 Census. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit on Friday that sought to halt an order from President Donald Trump to exclude undocumented immigrants from 2020 Census figures, but left room for another challenge on the issue.

In a 6-3 ruling, the court said that the suit brought by 23 states to block the administration's move was premature and that too many of the facts of the case are in flux.

Advertisement

The suit sought strike down a July memorandum from Trump that ordered the Commerce Department to effectively produce two Census counts -- one to include undocumented migrants and one to exclude them. The second figure would be used to apportion House seats and states' electoral votes.

The majority said Friday that deciding the case now isn't feasible because it remains uncertain just how fully the Commerce Department, the parent agency of the Census Bureau, will implement the presidential memorandum.

RELATED House committee considers subpoena for census documents

"At present, this case is riddled with contingencies and speculation that impede judicial review," the majority decision states.

"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."

Advertisement

The court's three liberal justices dissented in an opinion signed by Justice Stephen Breyer, which argues that enough evidence has been presented to warrant a ruling in the case and to rule in favor of the states' challenge.

RELATED Supreme Court hesitant to rule on Trump's plan for census count

"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 wrote.

"The government's effort to remove them from the apportionment base is unlawful, and I believe this court should say so."

The administration has said that it has "virtually unfettered discretion" in deciding what Census data to use. Three lower courts, however, have agreed with arguments from the states and immigrant rights advocates that Trump's memo violates the Constitution and Census statutes.

RELATED Supreme Court to hear appeal to erase undocumented immigrants from U.S. Census

Friday's move wipes away the September ruling of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, which is one of the 23 states party to the suit.

By dismissing the suit, rather than ruling on its merits, the Supreme Court left open the possibility that immigrant rights advocates could sue again. Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project, promised that will indeed happen.

Advertisement

"If the administration actually tries to implement this policy, we'll sue. Again," Ho tweeted Friday. "And we'll win."

Latest Headlines