Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Supreme Court rules that the citizenship question will not be added to the census for now

The Supreme Court has blocked a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census for the time being in a major setback for the Trump administration.

Writing for a 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts concluded that there was sufficient reason for concern about why the Commerce Department wanted to add the question. “If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case,” he wrote.

The data obtained from the 2020 census is used for the allocation of congressional seats and the distribution of billions of federal dollars to states and localities over the next decade. The Trump administration claimed the citizenship question on the census is necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law.

Critics argued it is an attempt to intimidate noncitizens and Latino households and will lead to a decline in response rates and underrepresentation of minorities. Trump tweeted in April, “Can you believe that the Radical Left Democrats want to do our new and very important Census Report without the all-important Citizenship Question. Report would be meaningless and a waste of the $Billions (ridiculous) that it costs to put together!”

The administration has also asserted executive privilege over materials related to the citizenship question, spurring a fight with House Democrats. Roberts said the explanation for adding the question didn’t pass muster; “The sole stated reason — seems to have been contrived. We are presented, in other words, with an explanation for agency action that is incongruent with what the record reveals about the agency’s priorities and decisionmaking process.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who challenged the administration, said in a statement Thursday that “This one question could have caused a substantial undercount, particularly of noncitizens and Latinos.” “Thanks to the Court, the census will remain a tool for delivering on our government’s promise of fairness and equity,” James said.