The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a challenge to President Donald Trump’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from the final census, giving the president a partial victory despite a temporary victory.
With a margin of 6-3 votes, the court said it was not clear whether the administration could even implement the plan and what impact it would have on the states.
“This case is riddled with coincidence and speculation,” the court noted in a narrow, unsigned statement, referring to the states ’challenge to Trump’s plan. “The policy cannot be proven impossible to implement in any way.”
The census, required by the Constitution and conducted once every 10 years, is used to determine how many members of Congress each state receives in the House of Representatives. The data is also used to calculate $ 1.5 trillion in local government funding under several federal programs.
As a matter of law, the president can now try to carry out his plan, but the states will undoubtedly come back and challenge it.
Dale Ho of the American Civil Liberties Union, who represented the challenges before the Supreme Court, said the decision was only about time.
“The legal mandate is clear: every person counts in the census, and every person is represented in Congress,” Ho said. “If this policy is ever actually implemented, we will challenge it and return to court.”
In a post on Twitter, he added, “If the administration really tries to implement this policy, we will sue and again. We will win.”
In July, Trump released a memo that said undocumented individuals should not be included in the final count. Under his plan, the Census Bureau will report two sets to the White House: one enumerates all, including one, and the other allows undocumented immigrants to leave. The president can inform Congress of a small number to use for redistricting.
The New York-led group of states sued to block the plan, saying it would divert money and political power from states with large immigrant populations and violate constitutional and federal law. Judges Stephen Fryer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said it was enough to present an unconstitutional plan.
The court said it was clear the government could not exclude 10.5 million undocumented immigrants from the United States, but said the evidence presented by states challenging the policy was “unreliable that the president would exclude undocumented populations”.
He said the majority opinion of the court did not comment on whether the policy was unconstitutional.
The dissenting judges said the case should have been decided by the court. They said it was clear that undocumented immigrants could not be excluded from the census because the constitution included “the total number of persons in each state”.
Writing for the three protesters, Fryer said, “The government acknowledges that it is working to achieve an illegal goal, and this court should not refuse to resolve the case because the government speculates that it will not win completely.”
Under federal law, the Census Bureau is required to report the figures to the president by the end of December, but it has already said it will miss that deadline.