DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The Trump administration's decision to ask people about their citizenship in the 2020 census will end up at the Supreme Court according to Civil Liberties attorney Alan Dershowitz. The question is – when?
"Whether it will end up [at the Supreme Court] in time for the next Census is a hard question because the law moves slowly," Dershowitz told CBS 11 Political Reporter Jack Fink.
Dershowitz stressed that the Census is required by the constitution. "We get to determine who gets Congressional seats based on the Census," he said. The Census is used to determine the number of congressional districts in each state as well as federal funding for schools, roads, and other projects.
Several states that have slowing population growth or high numbers of immigrants such as California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and Ohio are typically at risk of losing U.S. House seats when their congressional districts are redrawn every 10 years — depending on how fully their residents are counted.
Dershowitz also said that – whether a citizenship question should be on the Census – is hard to answer. "The answers to the specific question... are very complex and very difficult and we haven't really begun to sort them out," he said. "And I think these are the kinds of questions that we have to begin to ask. And they'll be asked – not only in the halls of Congress – but in the courts," he continued. "Because there will be challenges to that question. Because if that question results in Green Card holders not submitting themselves to the Census – Green Card holders are American persons under the law – [they] have to be counted," Dershowitz continued. "Obviously illegal aliens have a different status."
"These are very important questions but they are constitutional in nature because the Census determines the House of Representatives and other important aspects of Americas legal and Constitutional life," Dershowitz added.
At least one lawsuit has already been filed.
California struck quickly, with Attorney General Xavier Becerra filing a federal lawsuit Tuesday that seeks to block Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' decision to add a citizenship question in 2020.
Officials from New York and New Jersey, also Democratic-led states, were also planning on leading or participating in lawsuits. Massachusetts signaled interest, too.
Dershowitz spoke in Irving this week before the Institute of Policy Innovation, a free-market think tank.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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