State drops lawsuit over census count

Alabama on Monday agreed to drop a lawsuit against the U.S. government that had sought to change the way census population counts were used for reapportionment.

The suit, filed in 2018 by the state of Alabama and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) against the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau, argued that immigrants should not be counted for apportionment or federal funding if they are not in the United States legally.

Alabama was projected to lose one congressional seat and one electoral vote after the 2020 Census, but when state population totals were released last week, it ended up keeping them.

“Because they didn’t lose a seat, basically Alabama’s whole theory of the injury went away,” said Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which intervened to defend against the suit.

Alabama had previously dropped the federal funding part of the challenge.

The concept of excluding undocumented immigrants from being counted for congressional representation is unprecedented in U.S. history, but in its last months in office, the Trump administration tried unsuccessfully to make the same change. One roadblock it faced was the fact that no tallies exist of undocumented immigrants; the government never explained how it planned to subtract them from the totals.

— Tara Bahrampour


Law will preempt local coronavirus limits

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) moved to suspend all remaining coronavirus restrictions imposed by communities across his state, signing into law on Monday newly passed legislation giving him sweeping powers to invalidate local emergency measures put in place during the pandemic — including mask mandates, limitations on business operations and the shuttering of schools.

In addition to signing the law, which goes into effect July 1, the governor also signed a pair of executive orders to move more quickly, meaning that coronavirus measures enacted by local governments — such as requiring masks — would be abolished immediately.

Some municipalities have already lifted restrictions. But Miami-Dade County, for example, still requires masks in all indoor public spaces and outdoors if people are within 10 feet of each other. The governor’s executive order rescinds those rules. However, private businesses — including theme parks and hospitals — can impose restrictions on their own.

To date, more than 2.2 million Floridians have been infected with the coronavirus. More than 36,000 have died, but in per capita deaths, Florida has fared better than most states. Although daily infections and deaths have gone down, the pandemic is far from over. On Monday, there were some 3,600 Floridians hospitalized with covid-19 as the primary diagnosis.


Detroit councilman quits, pleads guilty

A Detroit city councilman who has been under indictment on federal corruption charges since 2018 has resigned from office and admitted in court Monday to accepting an illegal cash campaign contribution.

Gabe Leland, 38, pleaded guilty in Wayne County Circuit Court to misconduct in office, and his attorney later announced that Leland also stepped down from his elected post, the Detroit News reported.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 7. Court documents have said the contribution was $7,500.

A federal grand jury indicted Leland in 2018 on corruption charges tied to $15,000 in bribes and free auto body work solicited and accepted from a business owner in return for help on a property issue.