Dec 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court punts on challenge to Trump's congressional apportionment plan

Supreme Court building
Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday threw out a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s plans to exclude undocumented immigrants from the population base used for congressional seat apportionment, calling the challenge "premature."

Why it matters: The decision to punt would hypothetically allow the Trump administration to move forward with its plans to exclude undocumented immigrants. But it's unclear whether it is even possible for the administration to follow through on it, and if they did, there could still be legal challenges.

What they're saying: “At present, this case is riddled with contingencies and speculation that impede judicial review," the Supreme Court wrote in an unsigned order, with three dissents.

  • "The President, to be sure, has made clear his desire to exclude aliens without lawful status from the apportionment base. But the President qualified his directive by providing that the Secretary should gather information 'to the extent practicable' and that aliens should be excluded 'to the extent feasible.'"
  • "Any prediction how the Executive Branch might eventually implement this general statement of policy is “no more than conjecture” at this time."

One key line: “Everyone agrees by now that the Government cannot feasibly implement the memorandum by excluding the estimated 10.5 million aliens without lawful status," the justices wrote.

What to watch: Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights project, tweeted: "If the Administration actually tries to implement this policy, we'll sue. Again. And we'll win."

Read the order.

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