On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to a Trump administration policy surrounding census data, with a majority of the justices concluding that the case was “premature” because the Trump administration hasn’t yet completed finalizing data from the census in the first place. The Trump administration has announced a plan to produce a set of the data that excludes undocumented immigrants, despite the clear legal demand for tallies of all people in the United States to serve as the basis for apportioning Congressional representation across the country. On Twitter, New York Attorney General Letitia James — whose office was involved in the lawsuit against the policy — pledged to “continue to do whatever is necessary to stop the president from putting politics above the law.”
The Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the court challenge against the Trump administration’s plan, seemingly allowing for a potential future challenge to emerge — if the Trump administration even successfully puts it into practice before leaving D.C. CNN notes that “Census officials have indicated they’re facing difficulties processing census responses in time to produce the final count by an end of the year deadline.”
In the meantime, James commented as follows:
‘President Trump’s efforts to pick and choose who to count in the apportionment base of the #2020Census is as illegal today as it was when he made this announcement. The law is clear, every person residing in the US during the census, regardless of legal status, must be counted. Any further efforts by the president or his administration to violate the law will be met with fierce opposition, and we are confident we will win. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to stop the president from putting politics above the law.’
Any further efforts by the president or his administration to violate the law will be met with fierce opposition, and we are confident we will win.
We will continue to do whatever is necessary to stop the president from putting politics above the law.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) December 18, 2020
In a dissent from the conservative majority’s rejection of the case, the U.S. Supreme Court’s three liberal justices insisted that the court should have ruled on the merits of the case. Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the dissent with the backing of Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, observed as follows:
‘The plain meaning of the governing statutes, decades of historical practice, and uniform interpretations from all three branches of Government demonstrate that aliens without lawful status cannot be excluded from the decennial census solely on account of that status. The Government’s effort to remove them from the apportionment base is unlawful, and I believe this Court should say so.’
The Supreme Court already rejected the Trump administration’s past attempt to ask census respondents about their citizenship status.