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Why The US Supreme Court Unblocked A Controversial Trump Change To Census Count

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The Supreme Court of the United States, pictured Aug. 3, 2017. (Liam James Doyle/NPR)
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The U.S. Supreme Court today overturned a lower court order that stopped a controversial Trump administration effort to remove immigrants without legal status from key census counts that determine political power.

The majority decision found that it was too early to determine any harm.

Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School, said it's normal for the justices to wait and see how a plan plays out.

"They don't exist to answer questions in the abstract," Levitt said.

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By January, the harm should be more clear: That's when the Census Bureau plans to release two sets of apportionment tallies for congressional seats — one excluding undocumented people, and one including the whole number of persons in each state.

Then, Levitt said, this case will likely heat up and be heard by the Supreme Court once again.

California could lose out big in terms of representation if the Trump plan were implemented: It's estimated that roughly 2 million immigrants without legal status make California their home; as many as 900,000 are believed to reside in L.A. County.

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