- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Attorney General William P. Barr defended the legality of President Trump’s new executive order excluding illegal immigrants from apportionment of congressional seats after the 2020 census, saying Tuesday that Congress can define who gets counted and it has delegated that power to the Commerce Department.

Mr. Trump’s order has proved deeply controversial, drawing myriad lawsuits arguing the Constitution requires “the whole number of persons in each state” be counted for purposes of doling out seats in the House of Representatives.

But Mr. Barr said the Justice Department believes it’s up to Congress to define who counts as persons for that purpose.

“Our advice has been that Congress does have the power to define the word inhabitant,” he told the House Judiciary Committee. “Congress has delegated that power to the Commerce secretary.”

He said at the very least, it’s an arguable position.

The Constitution refers to “persons in each state,” which has been taken to mean “inhabitants” — which Mr. Barr says is a judgment call.

Lawsuits have been filed from California to New York, arguing the president overstepped.

In a new complaint Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra argues the 2020 census has already been put in peril by the coronavirus pandemic, and this new demand will only complicate matters.

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