(Headline USA) The Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up President Donald Trump’s policy, blocked by a lower court, to exclude illegal immigrants from the census count that will be used to allocate seats in the House of Representatives.
The justices put the case on a fast track, setting arguments for Nov. 30. A decision is expected by the end of the year or early in January, when Trump has to report census numbers to the House.
Trump’s most recent court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, could take part in the case if, as seems likely, she is confirmed by then.
Never in U.S. history have immigrants been excluded from the population count that determines how House seats, and by extension Electoral College votes, are divided among the states, a three-judge federal count said in September when it held Trump’s policy illegal.
However, immigration laws only first emerged during a wave of European and Chinese immigration in the early 20th century.
Although the census continued to ask about citizens’ immigration status through the 1950s, it later discontinued the practice.
Left-wing activists challenged the Trump administration’s resumption of it, and the court last year agreed, ruling that the Commerce Department, which administers the census, had not met the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act to specify its rationale for the change.
“President Trump has repeatedly tried — and failed — to weaponize the census for his attacks on immigrant communities,” said American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Dale Ho, representing a coalition of immigrant advocacy groups that challenged Trump’s plan in court.
“The Supreme Court rejected his attempt last year and should do so again,” he said.
Trump left it to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to figure out how many immigrants are not living legally in each state.
The outcome of the census case could affect the distribution of political power for the next 10 years. The census also helps determine the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funding annually.
The administration told the court that the president retains “discretion to exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment based on their immigration status.”
The Supreme Court separately allowed the administration to end the actual census count this week, blocking a court order that would have kept the count going until the end of the month.
The court did not take action on two other administration appeals of policies on asylum seekers and the border wall that lower courts likewise had imposed injunctions on.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press