Supreme Court Blocks Citizenship Question On 2020 Census
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.
The bitter controversy centers around whether the administration can ask all recipients a citizenship question on the 2020 census for the first time since 1950.
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. Roberts had the support of the four liberal justices.
“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 decision raises the question of whether the administration will have enough time or the ability to add the citizenship question before the census begins. The administration previously told the court that the questionnaire needed to be printed by the end of June.
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 questionnaire is necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law. Critics argued it is an attempt to intimidate noncitizens and Hispanic households and will lead to a decline in response rates and underrepresentation of minorities.
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 decision-making process.”
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