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GOP Rep. Mo Brooks has joined the state of Alabama in a lawsuit challenging the Commerce Department practice of counting everyone (not just citizens) for reapportionment.

15 states join legal fight to keep House districts based on total population

A federal judge is allowing a coalition of 15 states and the District of Columbia to be defendants in a lawsuit seeking to exclude noncitizens from being counted in the run-up to the re-allocation of congressional seats.

Last year the state of Alabama and one of its Republican congressmen, Mo Brooks, sued the Trump administration, arguing that the counting of undocumented immigrants in census figures used for determining reapportionment unfairly benefits states with higher numbers of noncitizens.

Alabama contends that counting the whole population — the practice used for apportionment since Congess began — rather than just citizens will cost the state one of its seven House seats (and therefore one of its electoral votes) following the 2020 census tally.


Alabama's suit is a long shot: Not only does the Constitution specify that a census include "the whole number of persons in each state" regardless of citizenship status, but also the Supreme Court ruled in 2016 against two Texas residents who challenged the practice of using the whole population to draw the state's legislative districts.

But the decision permitting other states to come to the defense of the Commerce Department and its Census Bureau, made last week by U.S. District Judge David Proctor of Birmingham, nonetheless raises the profile of a case that has been plodding along in the shadows of the Trump administration's now-abandoned efforts to add a citizenship question to next year's national population count.

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During his State of the Union address this year, President Trump said he would stonewall the legislative process if members of Congress don't play ball, writes Neal.

A year of broken standards for America’s democracy

Neal is federal government affairs manager at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.

The term "democratic norms" has become a misnomer over the last year. America's governing institutions are undermined by elected officials who dishonor their offices and each other. Standards of behavior and "normal" processes of governance seem to be relics of a simpler time. Our democracy has survived thus far, but the wounds are many.

Free speech and free press have been the White House's two consistent whipping posts. Comments such as "I think it is embarrassing for the country to allow protestors" and constant attacks on press credibility showcase President Trump's disdain for the pillars of democracy. Traditional interactions between the administration and the press are no longer taken for granted. Demeaning, toxic criticisms have become so common that they're being ignored. As the administration revokes critics' press passes and daily briefings are canceled, normalcy in this arena is sorely missed.

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Register2Vote

The founders of Register2Vote, Madeline Eden and Jeremy Smith, preparing registration information for mailing in Texas last year.

After successful Texas debut, tech-based voter registration platform goes national

Having had remarkable success at signing people up to vote in Texas last year, an Austin group of activists is expanding its pilot program into a full-blown national effort to overcome the sometimes ignored first hurdle for people in the voting process — registration.

"There are millions of voters who are registered who don't get out to vote," said Christopher Jasinski, director of partnerships for Register2Vote. "But the unmeasured part of the pie is the actual number of unregistered voters."

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