The U.S. Supreme Court punted last week when it announced its decision affecting the Trump administration’s plan to exclude illegal immigrants from being counted in the upcoming census, according to an official at the Institute for Justice.
Anthony Sanders, director of the Center for Judicial Engagement at the institute, wrote a column published in The Hill saying the U.S. Supreme Court dodged the census issue with a “non-opinion opinion” instead of offering clarity in Trump v. New York.
“A 6-3 majority in Trump v. New York denied that a dispute even exists,” Sanders wrote. “Injured parties almost certainly will emerge, but the census has not yet been finalized and thus — in the most technical sense — the harm remains hypothetical.
“Such unsatisfying outcomes have become increasingly common. The new ruling is just the latest in a line of decisions in which the Supreme Court avoids hard questions by invoking “standing,” “ripeness” or similar doctrines that leave conflicts to fester without addressing the underlying merits.”
Sanders added the court punted “even when it is not fourth down.”
A coalition of states, organizations and individuals appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Trump administration wants to exclude illegal immigrants from the official census count used to allocate congressional districts to states. That could mean an estimated 10 million people might not be counted.
But because the administration has not said how many undocumented people live in various states and localities, the exact number of people who would be excluded remains unknown.
The court thus claims the case “is riddled with contingencies and speculation,” Sanders said.
The administration is trying to further define its proposal before President-elect Joe Biden takes office Jan 20. The justices left open the possibility of new litigation if the Trump administration completes its plan.
The 6-3 ruling was on ideological lines with the court’s six conservatives in the majority and three liberals dissenting.
“This misses the forest for the trees,” Sanders said. “Exactly how many people the administration won’t end up counting is not known today. But what is known is that some won’t be counted.
“If a realistic likelihood exists that the government will harm you, the court should be open to your claim.”
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