A team of Pillsbury attorneys worked pro bono with the League of Women Voters to file a key amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in a case soon to be the subject of accelerated oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court. The case, New York v. Trump, will be heard on November 30. It challenges a Presidential Memorandum that would exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count used to apportion seats in Congress.
New York v. Trump is one of a handful of cases challenging the Presidential Memorandum regarding the census and apportionment. Pillsbury and the League filed amicus briefs in several of these related cases, including City of San Jose v. Trump (Northern District of California) and Common Cause v. Trump (District of Columbia).
In the New York case, a three-judge panel of the Southern District of New York agreed with plaintiffs that the Administration’s apportionment memorandum violates federal law. Just one month after the New York decision and the government’s appeal, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case on an expedited basis.
In the San Jose case, a three-judge panel of the Northern District of California cited Pillsbury’s amicus brief and—like the Southern District of New York—found the Administration’s apportionment policy violates federal law. The Northern District went even further, finding the policy violates the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. government has appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court as well.
“Ensuring an accurate census and apportionment base is at the heart of American government,” said Blaine Green, lead counsel on the brief from Pillsbury. “By excluding undocumented immigrants from the apportionment base, the Presidential Memorandum undermines trust in the Constitutional promise of representative democracy. As we explain in our amicus brief for the League of Women Voters, the Supreme Court should find the Memorandum violates the Constitution and federal statutory law.”
Excluding undocumented immigrants from the apportionment base would harm individual states and their citizens—regardless of political affiliation or legal status—by artificially reducing some states’ representation in Congress (e.g., New York, California), reducing the political power and representation of their citizens. This loss of political power has real-world impacts. The distribution of federal funds is based, in part, on the number of seats a geographic area holds in Congress. In addition, studies have shown that the loss of a congressional seat decreases a state’s voting power in Congress which, in turn, lowers that state’s share of federal spending.
The Pillsbury team members who worked on the Supreme Court amicus are Blaine Green and Kevin Fong in San Francisco, Jennifer Altman in Miami, and Michael Pisko, Patricia Rothenberg and Melissa Pettit in New York. Additional team members helped with the amicus briefs filed at the district court level, including Bob Sills, Hinako Gojima and Ryan Adelsperger in New York, Shani Rivaux in Miami, Cynthia Robertson in Washington, DC, Dustin Chase-Woods in San Francisco, and Ashleigh Acevedo in Houston.