Census 2020: Waiting On The Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court reconvened today and will be completing their deliberations on several high-profile cases, including the question of whether a citizenship question can be added to the 2020 Census. Decisions will be announced each Monday through the end of June, though a decision on the Census case is expected shortly as the government has a June printing deadline.

During arguments last month, justices heard that multiple lower courts have ruled that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross violated the Administrative Procedure Act on multiple occasions in his attempt to get this question added to the 2020 Census. He ignored the recommendation of every statistician at the US Census Bureau. He ignored the recommendations of external experts. Instead, he shopped for departments to “request” the question, despite already having decided to add it per the encouragement of Steve Bannon, Kris Kobach, and others at the White House. When he finally convinced someone at the Justice Department to “request” the addition (months after documents show he’d already made the decision), he claimed it was to help “enforce the Voting Rights Act”, despite plentiful evidence to the contrary. 

Strangely, conservative justices who normally argue against using any external (international) precedent, were doing complete 180’s to argue that other countries ask this question, so we should, too. Chief Justice John Roberts seemed to agree that this would “help” the Voting Rights Act, when he has in fact authored and signed on to multiple opinions in the past several years that tore down multiple provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

Meanwhile, communities as well as companies that rely on accurate Census data to plan for future needs fear that adding the question will result in incomplete and inaccurate data, leaving them unable to adequately plan for the next decade.


More Information:

High court returns to face challenges to census, political districts (UPI, 20 May 2019)

Companies That Rely On Census Data Worry Citizenship Question Will Hurt (NPR, All Things Considered, 19 May 2019)

Supreme Court Appears To Lean Toward Allowing Census Citizenship Question (NPR, All Things Considered, 23 Apr 2019)

Trump’s Census Citizenship Question Faces Test in Supreme Court Clash (Bloomberg, 22 Apr 2019)

Supreme Court divided on citizenship question for census (Politico, 23 April 2019)

On Census Citizenship Question, Supreme Court’s Conservatives Appear United (New York Times, 23 Apr 2019)

The Supreme Court Is Poised to Shred Its Credibility to Let Trump Rig the Census (Slate, 23 Apr 2019)

There’s a reason Trump believes the Supreme Court will save his presidency from accountability (ThinkProgress, 24 April 2019)

The Supreme Court, the Census Case and the Truth (New York Times Opinion, Linda Greenhouse, 9 May 2019)

Now playing at the Supreme Court: How to preserve white power in four easy steps (Washington Post Opinion, Dana Milbank, 23 Apr 2019)

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