The appeal concerns President Donald Trump’s effort to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted when congressional seats are re-allocated among the 50 states next year.
A three-judge federal panel issued an injunction earlier this month blocking the Commerce Department from carrying out Trump’s directive.
“Throughout the Nation’s history, the figures used to determine the apportionment of Congress,” the court held, “have included every person residing in the United States at the time of the census, whether citizen or non-citizen and whether living here with legal status or without.”
Trump’s July 21, 2020, memo violates the laws that govern the census and apportionment because it mandates that the Commerce Secretary provide the President with a set of numbers that excludes undocumented immigrants, the court ruled.
“By doing so, the Presidential Memorandum violates Congress’s mandate to use the results of the census — and only the results of the census — in connection with the apportionment process,” the court held.
On Tuesday, Solicitor General Jeff Wall argued that the Census Bureau is still evaluating how administrative records pertaining to immigration status can be used.
“Congress has vested discretion in the Secretary to determine, subject to the President’s supervision and direction, how to conduct the decennial census — and the Executive Branch has long exercised that discretion by considering administrative records and data in addition to that obtained by the census questionnaire,” Wall told the Supreme Court.