Supreme Court considers Trump’s plan to adjust census based on immigration status

During President Donald J. Trump’s four years in office, challenges to one administration policy after another eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump won some and lost some.

With the election of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to the White House, those Trump battles are near an end. But there are still three pending cases before the justices involving Trump initiatives. Two of those have not yet been scheduled for argument and may fizzle if the new administration moves quickly to change policies.

One involves a policy known as Migrant Protection Protocols, in which immigrants from Central America who passed through Mexico to reach the U.S. border have been returned by U.S. authorities to Mexico while their removal proceedings are pending. The other involves a challenge to the Trump administration’s use of some $2.5 billion in Department of Defense funds to build parts of a border wall with Mexico.

A third Trump administration action is going before the high court Monday, even as the election of Biden and other developments raise questions about whether the justices will reach the merits of the case. But the case, for now, raises the specter that the outgoing president will be able to put a stamp on decennial census numbers and the apportionment of Congress that could benefit Republicans for a decade.

In Trump v. New York, the central question is whether the president has the authority to exclude immigrants living here illegally (or “illegal aliens,” as the Trump administration calls them), from the base population number of the 2020 census that is used for the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“No president has tried to do this before,” says Margo J. Anderson, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the author of the 2015 book The American Census: A Social History. “This hasn’t been something historians or legal scholars have really worried about.”

By Mark Walsh for ABAJOURNAL
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