States ask that Trump’s district drawing order be stopped

National

Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, census worker Ken Leonard wears a mask as he mans a U.S. Census walk-up counting site set up for Hunt County in Greenville, Texas, Friday, July 31, 2020. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A coalition of states, cities and civil rights groups on Friday asked a federal judge to declare as unconstitutional President Donald Trump’s order seeking to exclude people in the country illegally from being part of the process for redrawing congressional districts.

The coalition, led by New York state, in court papers asked U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in New York to stop Trump’s order from being implemented and declare that it violated the U.S. Constitution and laws governing the taking of the once-a-decade census.

In the alternative, the coalition asked the judge to stop any action from being taken on the order until he can make a final ruling.

Every resident of a state is traditionally counted during apportionment, but Trump last month issued a directive seeking to bar people in the U.S. illegally from being included in the headcount as congressional districts are redrawn. Trump said including them in the count “would create perverse incentives and undermine our system of government.”

At least a half dozen lawsuits have been filed seeking to halt the directive, but the New York case is the furthest along. Opponents say Trump’s order is an effort to suppress the growing political power of Latinos in the U.S. and to discriminate against immigrant communities of color.

Furman on Friday also granted the coalition’s request for the case to be heard by a panel of three judges since the case involves questions about what is constitutional when it comes to redrawing congressional districts, the process known as apportionment. The case also requires a three-judge panel, Furman said, since it alleges that the Census Bureau would have to use statistical modeling to calculate how many people are living in the U.S. illegally, which is prohibited in calculating the population for apportionment.

The move to a three-judge panel would allow the case to take a more direct path to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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