HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The state of Alabama and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks won a round in federal court this week in the lawsuit over the upcoming 2020 census.
The lawsuit contends Alabama could lose a congressional seat, a vote in the Electoral College and federal tax dollars, unless the Census rules are changed.
The 2020 Census is also the subject of a looming U.S. Supreme Court decision. The high court is expected to rule by the end of June on the Trump administration's plan to include a citizenship question on the Census. Opponents of the measure say that is designed to intimidate some respondents and will lead to fewer responses to the Census, harming states with large immigrant populations like California.
Brooks and the Alabama Attorney General's Office are arguing in a different direction. Their lawsuit argues that unless the Census excludes counting the illegal immigrant populations concentrated in certain states, Alabama’s population will be unfairly low in comparison, causing the state to lose a congressional seat, an electoral college vote and federal tax dollars.
A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that argument can go forward, rejecting a federal government motion to dismiss the claim. The court found Brooks and Alabama had standing to argue against the current Census approach based on the potential for loss of representation and tax dollars.
It's a math problem for every state. Congress has 435 members. Each state is guaranteed one member; that leaves 385 seats to divide up based on Census population results.
Alabama argues states with larger illegal immigrant populations like Florida and Texas have an unlawful advantage if the Census counts everyone regularly living in a given residence – as is customary.
Alabama currently ranks 24th in us population with 4.88 million people. The state has seven U.S. House seats and two senators, so, 9 electoral college votes.