Daily Caller

Divided Supreme Court Poised To Allow Citizenship Question On 2020 Census

Kevin Daley on April 23, 2019

  • The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seems ready to approve the Trump administration’s bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census form.
  • Democratic states, municipalities, and civil rights groups are challenging that move, warning a citizenship question will inevitably diminish minority participation.
  • The census is used to apportion seats in Congress among the states, draw district lines, and award federal aid.

A deeply divided Supreme Court appeared ready to allow the Trump administration to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census form during a Tuesday morning argument which was alternatively technical and heated.

The Court’s divide followed the usual ideological lines. Though the case involves several complex questions, ultimately the Court’s conservatives seemed to say that the citizenship question is ordinary and appropriate for the census.

“The principal purpose is to count the population, but we’ve had demographic questions on the census,” Chief Justice John Roberts said. “I don’t know how far back, but certainly it’s quite common.”

“The questions go quite beyond how many people there are,” Roberts added, noting the census forms include questions touching finances and lifestyles.

A coalition of Democratic cities, states, and civil rights groups sued the Trump administration after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who supervises the Census Bureau, authorized the inclusion of the citizenship question on the 2020 census form. The plaintiffs, citing the Census Bureau’s own findings, say the question will diminish non-citizen participation.

As such, the plaintiffs warn that the government’s move strikes at the very heart of democracy, since population is used to apportion federal funds, seats in Congress, and draw legislative district lines.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman barred the government from including the citizenship question in January. Furman said Ross violated a federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), saying he misconstrued the evidence of career Census Bureau experts and failed to substantiate his decisions.

The Commerce Department claims it added the citizenship question at the behest of the Justice Department, which purportedly needs better data to enforce the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The plaintiffs counter that the government can use existing records from other agencies to assemble such data, which might be more accurate than the census itself.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wondered if the courts should defer to the administration if the answer to that dispute is uncertain. Elsewhere, Kavanaugh noted that questions about citizenship are common practice in other industrialized nations.

“The United Nations recommends that countries ask a citizenship question on the census,” Kavanaugh said. “And a number of other countries do it.”

Tuesday’s argument became especially tense in its final moments, when Solicitor General Noel Francisco warned the Court that a ruling for the plaintiffs would empower any group in the country to dictate the contents of the census form. In turn, Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointedly asked if the was accusing Latinos as a group of boycotting the census, which is unlawful.

“Are you suggesting that Hispanics are boycotting the census?” Sotomayor asked. “Are you suggesting they don’t have — whether it is rational or not — a legitimate fear?”

“Not in the slightest,” Francisco replied.

A dispute as to whether the citizenship question is constitutional did not feature prominently in Tuesday’s argument. Critics of the administration say the Constitution requires an “actual enumeration” of persons, and that any action which would substantially diminish response rates is unconstitutional.

Neither did the justices address whether Furman was correct to allow depositions of Ross and other senior administration officials. The high court intervened to stop a scheduled Ross deposition in October 2018. Furman authorized the deposition in view of evidence that Ross was hiding his true reason for including the citizenship question. When the Court took the census case in February it said the justices would also decide whether “a district court may order discovery outside the administrative record to probe the mental processes of the agency decision-maker…without a strong showing” of evidence.

A decision in the case, Department of Commerce v. New York, is expected by June.

This is breaking news. This post will be updated. 

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Daily Caller

DCwire features investigative reporting syndicated with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

View Comments

  • Total agreement here. I live in CA, have seen the numbers and the amount of illegals here is HUGE. LA county has published statistics that there hundreds of thousands of illegals in LA County alone. Add all that up with the rest of the state and the other border states and I firmly believe that if there was a way to determine the legality of each vote in the 2016 election, Trump would have won the POPULAR vote as well as the electoral vote once they removed all the fraudulent votes.

  • Let us also observe Democrats are keen to ask Americans if we are "gay or trans or bi." You're required to state how many bathrooms are in your house. But the Census cannot ask if you're a citizen? Puh-leeze!

  • That needs to be on the census, I am glad to hear the high court is doing the right thing now get these disgusting perverted garbage done away with and over turn roe versus wade it is plain Murder and Our Constitution as Written does not protect perverts, Murders, and same sex marriage and we all know this the Traitor Pervert is not in control and hope soon will be in prison awaiting the Firing Squad

  • It is simple stupid, not legal, no rights at all for anything !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • There could be a major shift in the number of Congressman from certain states that have lost large numbers of their populations, such as California and New York. That also refers to Federal dollars. Some of these states would lose a lot of money and be forced to declare bankruptcy.

  • Great, I hope it does scare the illegal aliens form participating in the census, because they should not be counted because they do not belong here to begin with.
    *
    It would be great if we could wipe off a couple of million illegal alien invaders from the census rolls since that is how they determine how many members of the House of Representatives in each state. States like California and New York and a few others have many more members in the House they should otherwise not be entitled to if it were based strictly on citizen representation.
    *
    There is absolutely no justification for the whole country should be controlled by these states with high numbers of the illegal aliens that tip the scale in the number of representatives in the House.

  • Democrat needs those illegal aliens to vote them to the house, I believe sending those illegal back to their origin would help to make America a much better country and society

  • That question would not suppress minority participation if they are legal citizens. Also since the census questions are confidential, it should not even suppress illegals. They will not be hunted down if they admit their status.

    The reason blue blue states are trying to avoid it is so they can hold on to illegitimate power. NY and CA May loss seats in Congress and electoral votes if illegals are excluded.

  • We should be counting the citizens of this country, not illegals that are here uninvited. Other wise we may as well count the world’s population too!! Not!

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