SCOTUS vacates lower court decisions that blocked Trump’s plan to exclude illegal aliens from census count

President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated his intention to exclude illegal aliens from the 2020 census, specifically as it pertains to the apportionment of congressional representation, and in July codified that intent in a memo to the Commerce Secretary.

That memo spurred several legal challenges and at least three separate district courts blocked the Commerce Secretary from following Trump’s direction, but the Supreme Court has now vacated all three of those injunctions and ordered the lower courts to dismiss the lawsuits based on a lack of jurisdiction, Just the News reported.

Ordered dismissed

In a 6-3 ruling on Monday, the Supreme Court remanded two cases back to the originating district courts in California and Maryland with instructions to dismiss, citing the ruling in a similar case from New York less than two weeks prior.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Elana Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor registered their dissent, as they had done in the New York case, and referenced what had been written in that prior dissent.

As things stand, the Trump administration can proceed with its plan to exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment count based on the census data. However, while that is certainly a victory, it may end up being short-lived as the Supreme Court’s New York ruling left the door open for the Trump administration’s policy to be challenged again at a later date.

No harm, no standing

In the New York case, also a 6-3 ruling, the unsigned majority opinion noted that, at least as of now, it was unclear that anyone had suffered any cognizable harm and that any speculative harm that might happen in the future with regard to apportionment or appropriations — which is also often based on total population count — was simply speculation.

As such, it was determined that the plaintiffs had no standing as the case was not yet “ripe” for a ruling, therefore, “the standing and ripeness inquiries both lead to the conclusion that judicial resolution of this dispute is premature.”

“Consistent with our determination that standing has not been shown and that the case is not ripe, we express no view on the merits of the constitutional and related statutory claims presented. We hold only that they are not suitable for adjudication at this time,” the majority added, and with that, the lower court’s block of the administration was vacated and the case ordered to be dismissed over a lack of jurisdiction.

The three liberal justices, led by Breyer’s written dissent, argued that the plaintiffs did indeed have standing and the case was ripe, in that the “harm” of reduced apportionment and appropriations were likely “imminent” if the administration proceeded with its plan to exclude illegal aliens.

California responds to ruling

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a party to the California case, issued a statement following the Supreme Court’s ruling Monday that, while not explicit, seemed to imply that the battle over the exclusion of illegal aliens from parts of the census count could be resumed at a later date.

“A complete, accurate census is about ensuring all our voices are heard and that our states get their share of resources to protect the health and well-being of all of our communities,” Becerra said. “We remain committed to the core principle that everyone counts. Here in California, we’ll continue to stand up for each and every person who calls our state home.”

It will be interesting to see, first, if the Trump administration is able to proceed with the plan to exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment count and, second, if any of the prior complainants refile their lawsuits alleging harm and a violation of rights.

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