Trump Can End Census Now, Says Supreme Court in Ruling That Could Have Big Impact on House Seats
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the Trump administration can stop the 2020 census count right now, instead of at the end of the month. The ruling comes in response to officials arguing in an emergency request that an October 31 deadline would keep them from processing census counts by the end of the year.
“A group of local governments and nonprofit groups, led by the National Urban League, said that ending the count early will result in an undercount of immigrants, low-income people and other groups that are difficult to count,” writes James Romoser at SCOTUSblog. Technically, the Court’s order is framed “as a temporary pause of a district judge’s ruling that directed the department to proceed,” he explains. “But due to the compressed timeline for completing the census, the order is likely to be the definitive say on the matter.”
The Commerce Department, which leads the census, wanted to stop on September 30. The National Urban League said it should keep going until October 31, as previously planned.
At first glance, it may seem both sides are arguing over a very small window of time that can’t make that much of a difference either way. But Republicans want to make sure they wrap things up while President Donald Trump is still in power because census numbers are used to determine how seats in the House of Representatives are apportioned—a process the administration wants to change.
Per two executive orders, the first in July 2019 and the second in July 2020, Trump declared that the census would include a question about citizenship status and then that “for the purpose of the reapportionment of Representatives following the 2020 census, it is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.”
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