A Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled Thursday that President Donald Trump’s July memorandum excluding illegal immigrants from the 2020 census is unlawful.
The three judge panel ruled that while Trump did have some discretion over the census, it is nonetheless limited, and therefore his July memorandum far exceeded his enumerated powers.
“The President is not free to substitute his own view of what is more ‘consonant with the principles of representative democracy’ for the view that Congress already chose,” the panel wrote, quoting part of the July memo.
Trump issued a memorandum in July ordering the Secretary of Commerce to exclude illegal immigrants from being counted in the census.
However, after the panel shot down his order, they said there was no need to hear the second claim in the lawsuit arguing the President’s order violated the Constitutional requirement to base apportionment of the House on the total number of persons in each state.
“Because the President exceeded the authority granted to him by Congress by statute, we need not, and do not, reach the overlapping, albeit distinct, question of whether the Presidential Memorandum constitutes a violation of the Constitution itself,” the panel wrote.
The panel said Trump’s memo is “an unlawful exercise of the authority granted to the president.”
The case was brought against Trump by a group of state and local governments and a coalition of advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations who argued that Trump’s memo would cause them to lose representation in the House if illegal immigrants weren’t counted in the census. The House of Representatives is determined by the number of people living in each state.
While the ruling bars Trump from discounting illegal immigrants in each state in the Secretary of Commerce report, the panel is not preventing the administration from “continuing to study whether and how it would be feasible to calculate” the number of illegal immigrants in the state in case their ruling was overturned by a higher court.
In 2019, the Supreme Court blocked the administration from adding a citizenship question to the census. (RELATED: Judge Sanctions Trump Admin After Citizenship Question Lawsuit)
The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted their support for the ruling Thursday, writing “VICTORY: We just beat Trump’s latest attack on the Census and immigrants communities. The law is clear: Everyone gets counted in the Census-you can’t pick and choose.”
The law is clear: Everyone gets counted in the Census — you can’t pick and choose.@realdonaldtrump, if you need a refresher: https://t.co/gtAZGnXb8M
— ACLU (@ACLU) September 10, 2020
Federal judges are hearing cases over the memo in California, Massachusetts and Maryland, according to NPR.