News & Politics

Conrad Burns Gets A Taste of His Own Medicine

Just who counts as a person in the United States?

Each and every one of the 299,200,580 people who reside inside the country’s borders—minus one man: Conrad Burns, Republican senator from Montana.

That, at least, is the view of Congressman Gary Ackerman, a New York Democrat who drafted spoof legislation in June that would bar the senator from being counted in the US Census for redistricting purposes. Ackerman calls it the Better Urban Recording Number System, or the B.U.R.N.S. Act.

Ackerman wrote the measure in response to a serious bill introduced by Burns that would prohibit illegal immigrants from being counted in the census—and which might give Montana a second House seat.

If passed, Ackerman says, Burns’s bill would violate the 14th Amendment, which provides equal protection under the law to all persons regardless of citizenship.

Burns spokesman Jason Klindt calls Ackerman’s effort an “unusual and personal attack” on the senator and defends the bill: “Counting illegal aliens pads the number of representatives in states like, you guessed it, New York.”