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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s attempt to exclude people illegally residing in the country from the population used to split up the seats in Congressional stands before a Supreme Court showdown after Thanksgiving.
The best lawyers in the government hope that judges in a court that includes three Trump appointees will accept the idea, which has been repeatedly rejected by the lower courts. It is the Trump administration’s latest, and likely final, tough approach to immigration to reach the Supreme Court. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, telephone disputes will take place on Monday.
Even as judges ponder an offer to remove millions of non-citizens from the population for the first time, it will determine how many seats each state will get in the House of Representatives and how much federal funding will be allocated, experts say other issues play out at the 2020 census plays a huge role as it breaks new ground in terms of deadlines, data quality and policies.
A variety of novel questions, beyond the final decision of the court, could determine the end product of the country’s once-a-decade headcount, including whether the future Biden administration would do anything to address the decisions made under Trump undo.
Among other things, will the Census Bureau be able to meet a year-end deadline to submit the numbers used for the split and allocate the congressional seats among states? Will a shortened schedule, pandemic, and natural disasters affect the quality of census data? Could a Democratically controlled house reject the Republican government’s numbers if the leaders of the house believe they are flawed? Will a Senate of Lame Ducks pass laws that could extend census deadlines?
« There are so many moving parts that your head can spin, » said Margo Anderson, history professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Federal courts in California, Maryland, and New York have ruled that Trump’s plan is in violation of federal law or the Constitution that “representatives should be divided among states according to their number, taking into account the total number of people in each Status. A fourth court in Washington, D. . C.. . Last week it was found that a similar challenge to the Management Plan was premature, an argument that was also brought before the Supreme Court.
« What Trump wants to do would be a radical break from it. The losers would not be individuals. It would be entire states and communities that would lose their representation if undocumented members of those communities were cut out of the census used for dividing the house, ”said Dale Ho, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, who on behalf of Immigration lawyers and civilians will argue rights groups in the Supreme Court case.
The government argues that both the Constitution and federal law allow the President to exclude « illegal aliens » from the apportionment count.
« As history, precedent and structure show, the president does not have to treat all illegal aliens as » residents « of the states and thus allow their violation of federal law to distort the distribution of representatives, » said the acting attorney general Jeffrey Wall wrote.
According to government estimates, California could lose two to three home seats if people illegally residing in the country were excluded based on government claims that there were more than 2 million such California residents. But Ho noted that a change in the layout of house seats can turn on much smaller numbers.
The Democratically controlled House has stepped in to argue that Trump’s scheme would result in an unfair distribution of seats for partisan goals, the latest attempt to “manipulate the census in novel and worrying ways. The House formulated the President’s plan as part of a larger effort that included an attempt blocked by the Supreme Court to add a citizenship issue to the census for the first time in 70 years.
In order for the order to be carried out, the allocation numbers must be processed while Trump is still in office. However, an announcement earlier this month that anomalies were found in the data jeopardizes the Census Bureau’s ability to pass those numbers to the President by Dec.. . 31 deadline. Trump, in turn, is supposed to send the numbers to Congress by January. 10.
However, if problems with the data force a delay of as much as three weeks, the Census Bureau would pass the numbers on to a new president. President-elect Joe Biden will take office on Jan.. January took office. 20th.
« The Biden administration needs to see what kind of damage the Trump administration has done and determine if an exact number of staff, including anyone regardless of nationality, can be used, » said Jeffrey Wice, Extraordinary Professor at New York Law School, an expert on census law and redistribution.
Even if everything is done on time, the House, which will remain under Democratic control next year, could reject the allotment numbers on the grounds that they are inconsistent with what Congress asked the Republican government to do, Justin Levitt said, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
« If the president hands over something that is implausible, what he asked, he does not have to accept it and not pass it on to the states, » said Levitt.
The Census Bureau’s announcement of anomalies also underscores pandemic-related concerns about the quality of the data. The time it takes to correct errors and fill in gaps in data collection has been cut in half by the administration’s decision to meet the year-end deadline and take Trump’s split order into account. The Census Bureau also struggled with forest fires in the west and hurricanes along the Gulf Coast.
There is still a chance the Senate may allay some concerns by negotiating an extension with the House for the population changeover. Since the coronavirus spread in the spring, the Census Bureau asked Congress to extend it until the end of April 2021. House agreed, but legislation went nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate after Trump issued his apportionment order in July.
There is no question that the Senate could pass another extension if either the Supreme Court rejects Trump’s plan or the Democrats take control of the Senate after two runoff elections in Georgia in January.
One thing seems likely: the current lawsuit won’t be the last litigation over the 2020 census. The final allotment numbers have been contested many times over the past few decades.
« What would a census be without a lot of litigation? » said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former congressional assistant who specializes in census issues.
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Donald Trump, United States Supreme Court, Immigration, 2020 Census, United States Law, Law
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