Statement on Supreme Court’s Decision in Trump v. New York

Redistricting, Voting Rights

Lawyers for Civil Rights condemns the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Trump v. New York to vacate the well-reasoned decision of the three-judge panel that found the Trump Administration’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from the congressional apportionment base unlawful. Multiple three-judge panels across the country — from California, New York and Maryland — agreed that the Trump Administration’s attack on immigrant communities was a violation of both statutory law and the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court did not express any opinion on the merits, but concluded that present uncertainties rendered the judicial resolution of the case “premature.” 

In a powerful dissent, Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan emphasized that this uncertainty “does not warrant our waiting to decide the merits,” given that the Supreme Court has already decided controversies concerning the 2020 Census — such as the presence of a citizenship question — and waiting further compounds “needless and costly delays in apportionment.” The dissent emphasized the high stakes of the litigation, including the allocation of congressional representatives and billions in federal funding. The justices refuted the majority’s view that it was necessary to wait until the U.S. Census Bureau identified which and how many undocumented immigrants could be identified and excluded, observing that where the government “acknowledges that it is working to achieve an allegedly illegal goal, this Court should not decline to resolve the case simply because the Government speculates that it might not fully succeed.” 

“We are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision not to reach the merits of the plaintiffs’ claim,” said Lauren Sampson, Staff Attorney at Lawyers for Civil Rights. “As the dissent demonstrated, the presidential memorandum violates Congress’ ‘clear command to count every person residing in the country and should be set aside.’ We call upon the incoming Biden-Harris Administration, as well as the House of Representatives, to reject any enumeration that does not include undocumented immigrants. We will continue our work, at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure that all immigrants and all persons receive the political representation and federal funding to which they are entitled.” 

The Supreme Court’s decision is available here. Lawyers for Civil Rights filed an amicus brief in New York v. Trump in support of the plaintiffs, along with our pro bono counsel at Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP. The brief filed on behalf of Haitian-Americans United, Centro Presente, La Colaborativa, Brazilian Worker Center, National Immigrant Justice Center, and American Jewish Committee is available here

Lawyers for Civil Rights is also co-counsel, with Ogletree Deakins, to immigrants’ rights organizations and individuals challenging the Trump Administration’s census memorandum in the District of Massachusetts. The complaint, filed on behalf of Haitian-Americans United, Centro Presente, La Colaborativa, and Brazilian Worker Center, is available here