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US court nixes Trump census plan challenge

The US Supreme Court has thrown out a lawsuit seeking to block President Donald Trump’s plan to exclude immigrants living in the United States illegally from the population count used to allocate congressional districts to states.

The 6-3 ruling on ideological lines with the court’s six conservatives in the majority and three progressives dissenting, gives Trump a short-term victory as he pursues his hard-line policies toward immigration in the final weeks of his presidency.

However, his administration is battling against the clock to follow through on the vaguely defined proposal before president-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20.

The justices left open the possibility of fresh litigation if Trump’s administration completes its plan.

The unsigned decision said that “judicial resolution of this dispute is premature” in part because it is not clear what the administration plans to do.

The ruling noted that the court was not weighing the merits of Trump’s plan.

Challengers led by New York state and the American Civil Liberties Union said Trump’s proposal would dilute the political clout of states with larger numbers of such immigrants, including heavily Democratic California, by undercounting state populations and depriving them of seats in the US House of Representatives to the benefit of his fellow Republicans.

The administration has not disclosed what method it would use to calculate the number of people it proposed to exclude or which subsets of immigrants would be targeted.

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