A federal court on Thursday blocked President Donald Trump’s order that would exclude undocumented immigrants from this year’s census, ruling that limiting the scope of the count was unconstitutional and beyond the president’s authority. The decision came from a three-judge panel in Federal District Court in Manhattan; two of the judges were George W. Bush appointees and the third was named to the bench by President Barack Obama. “The merits of the parties’ dispute are not particularly close or complicated,” the judges wrote in granting summary judgment, meaning the evidence is clear enough that the matter would not require a trial.
The census, since its first iteration 200-plus years ago, has counted the total number of persons residing in each state, with the obvious and glaring exception of slaves and Native Americans until the 20th century. The judges found that Trump’s order imposing a distinction between types of residents “violates the statute governing reapportionment because, so long as they reside in the United States, illegal aliens qualify as ‘persons’ in a ‘state’ as Congress used those words.”