Immigration and the Census

The Story:

Ten days before Biden’s inauguration, President Donald Trump is scheduled to send a report to Congress that will specify the number of people who live in each state and that will calculate the number of seats in the House of Representatives to which each state is entitled. Yesterday, November 30, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in New York’s challenge to a Trump administration plan for a last-minute reworking of those numbers to exclude undocumented aliens from the count.

Background:

If the court upholds such a plan, and if the administration can then implement it in the waning days left to it (both big “ifs”), then power in the House will be shifted away from states with large immigrant populations. For the most part, that means away from the states most likely to send a lot of Democrats to Washington.

The Thing to Know:

Though much of the questioning of the lawyers by the Justices focused on procedural issues, one of the Justices did seem to tip her hand on the underlying question of whether the President has the authority to make the numerical adjustments he plans to make. Perhaps surprisingly, that one was the newest Justice, Trump appointee Amy Coney Barrett. She told an administration lawyer flatly, “a lot of the historical evidence and longstanding practice really cuts against your position.”

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