by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Kevin Daley of the Washington Free Beacon writes that the U.S. Supreme Court appears likely to “slow walk” the Trump administration’s attempt to exclude illegal immigrants from the Census counts that lead to electoral redistricting.
The Supreme Court looks unlikely to issue a quick decision on the Trump administration’s bid to exclude illegal immigrants from the population baseline for awarding congressional seats.
The justices heard oral arguments for the case on Monday. At stake in the proceedings are untold millions in federal aid conditioned on population, as well as representation in the House of Representatives for states like California, Florida, and Texas, which have large numbers of illegal aliens.
Acting solicitor general Jeffrey Wall told the justices that the Census Bureau will not be able to identify most illegal immigrants in the country because of logistical challenges, meaning the president will move instead to exclude specific subsets of undocumented people, like those in ICE facilities. That concession stirred interest in a temporary delay among some of the justices, who said the Court should stay its hand until President Donald Trump decides which groups to discount.
“We don’t know what the president is going to do. We don’t know how many aliens will be excluded. We don’t know what the effect of that would be on apportionment. All these questions would be resolved if we wait until the apportionment takes place,” Chief Justice John Roberts said during Monday’s hearing.
A delay means that the states could be in store for a chaotic redistricting process while the House of Representatives itself is closely divided. Many states set legal deadlines for completing their redraw. And Texas, which will have almost 40 seats, presents a particular problem since its legislature will adjourn until 2023 in May. The Texas Legislature draws district boundaries but only meets every other year.