At the center of the bitter controversy is whether the administration, for the first time since 1950, can ask all recipients a citizenship question on the 2020 census – a move that could affect the balance of power in the States and the House of Representatives on the total population. The addition of the question could lead, according to critics, to an under-counting of minorities.
Judges of the Supreme Court issued rulings on two key cases on the last day of office, both of which deal with partisan politics. Roberts shared his votes by standing with the Conservatives to make an important decision allowing a strict retreat of partisans and then crossing ideological boundaries to side with the Liberals in the census.
something better than the explanation for the measures taken in this case, "wrote Roberts.
The decision raises the question of whether the administration has sufficient time or the opportunity to add the citizenship question before the start of the census Administration previously informed the court that the questionnaire should be printed by the end of June.
The census data in 2020 will be 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 that the citizenship question on the census questionnaire was necessary to better comply with federal law on electoral law. it was an attempt to non-citizens and Hispanic Ha intimidating and would lead to a decline in the response rates and under-representation of minorities.
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Trump tweeted in April: "Can you believe that the Radical Left Democrats want to create our new and very important census report without anything important? Citizenship Question: A report would be meaningless and a waste of billions of dollars (ridiculously) it costs To put it together! "
The government has also asserted the executive's privilege for materials related to the citizenship issue and launched a fight with the House Democrats.
Roberts said the explanation for adding the question had not been passed.
"The only reason given – seems to have been invented We are presented in other cases words with a statement for the actions of the Agency, which does not match what the records reveal the priorities and the decision-making process of the agency. "
Judge Stephen Breyer, in part along with judges Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, agreed with Roberts that the Commerce Department provided a" preliminary reason "for adding the question. But they would have gone further. They wrote separately to say that the decision violates a federal law, the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs how agencies set their rules.
Breyer asked the question, "There is a risk of undermining public confidence in the integrity of our democratic system itself."
New York attorney general Letitia James, who questioned the government, said in a statement Thursday that "this one question could have caused a significant undercount, especially by non-citizens and Latinos."
"Thanks to the Tribunal, the census will remain an instrument to fulfill our government's promise of fairness and justice," James said.
The Commerce Department simply said, "The decision is under review."
Justice Clarence Thomas, who included judges Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, said he had the question admitted at the census.
"For the first time, the court invalidates an agency suit simply because it calls into question the sincerity of the Agency's otherwise reasonable rationale," wrote Thomas.
the court declared the secretary's memorandum "feigned" because, "considering the evidence as a whole," his statement that the inclusion of a citizenship question in the census would help enforce the right to vote … "seems to have been invented. "
Each sub-tribunal investigating the matter has prevented the administration from adding the question, stating that Trade Minister Wilbur Ross has thereby exceeded his powers under federal law or constitution.
Steve Vladeck, an analyst on the CNN Supreme Court and a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said there could be a big difference between formal regulation and its practical impact, given the timing.
"Formally, it's a very close decision. This is unlikely to have such a large direct impact on these types of cases, nor does it prevent the Trump administration from asking for citizenship in the census when they do does a way that is less transparent against the background, "he said. "But in practice, it will be very difficult for the government to overcome the traps in time – and the most likely outcome is that the 2020 census will end without a citizenship issue."