SCOTUS Set To Weigh Trump Census Power Grab Before Inauguration

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement on the census with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (L) in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Tr... WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement on the census with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (L) in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump, who had previously pushed to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, announced that he would direct the Commerce Department to collect that data in other ways. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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October 16, 2020 5:32 p.m.

The Supreme Court announced plans to review President Trump’s anti-immigrant apportionment policy on a timeline that could give him a decision on its legality before, in the event of a Trump defeat this November, he is forced to leave office.

The court will hear arguments on the case — where a lower court has already declared the policy illegal — on November 30.

The Justice Department had previously asked the Supreme Court, if it was to hold oral arguments in the dispute, to do so on a timetable that would allow for a decision by early January. The schedule announced Friday fits with that request.

The case is considered a legal longshot for the administration. But it’s one with major implications if Trump can secure enough votes from the court — which by then will likely include his latest nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett — to let him implement the policy.

Trump is seeking to remove undocumented immigrants from the count used to determine how many House seats each state gets. Doing so would allow him to shrink the congressional representation of immigrant rich states while boosting the electoral advantages of whiter, more Republican-leaning parts of the country.

The lower court said that Trump’s proposal violates laws passed by Congress that dictate aspects of the census process. Those laws say explicitly that apportionment should be based on “total population.” The challengers to the policy also argue that it violates the Constitution’s mandate that a “whole number of persons” make up the count for apportionment. The lower court did not address the constitutionality of Trump’s policy.

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