Second court blocks Trump's order to exclude undocumented immigrants from census

Second court blocks Trump's order to exclude undocumented immigrants from census
© Getty Images

A federal court in California on Thursday ruled against President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE's order to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count for apportioning congressional seats, dealing the administration its second court loss over the July executive memorandum.

A panel of three judges for the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California ruled that the memo was unconstitutional and violated laws governing the census.

"The policy which the Presidential Memorandum attempts to enact has already been rejected by the Constitution, the applicable statutes, and 230 years of history," the panel wrote in a 90-page decision.


The order forbids the Commerce Department from reporting any information to the White House that would help carry out the order.

Trump issued the memorandum in July, ordering the Commerce Department to explore ways to keep undocumented immigrants out of the apportionment process.

California sued to block the order, saying the constitution and the law require that apportionment be based on each state's entire population, regardless of citizenship status. 

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments next month over a similar ruling from a federal district court in New York in September that found the order unlawful. The high court has fast-tracked the case.

Thursday's ruling went even further in rejecting Trump's order than the one already under Supreme Court review. 

While the New York court declined to rule whether Trump's memo was unconstitutional, the panel in California found that it violated the Apportionment and Enumeration clauses as well as the 14th Amendment. 

"The Constitution’s text, drafting history, 230 years of historical practice, and Supreme Court case law all support the conclusion that apportionment must be based on all persons residing in each state, including undocumented immigrants," the court said in the decision. 

California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta Democrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Overnight Health Care — Insurance will soon cover COVID-19 tests MORE (D), who brought the lawsuit, hailed the court's decision on Thursday.

“A complete, accurate census count is critical for ensuring Californians are heard in Congress — and that we get the resources we need to protect the health and well-being of our communities,” Becerra said in a statement. “Today’s decision is a critical victory for us all. It’s past time for the President to recognize that you can’t sidestep the Constitution. Whether it’s at the polls or through the census, we all have to do our part to make our voices heard.”

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, which is representing the administration in the case, did not immediately respond when asked for comment. 

—Updated at 11:59 a.m.