According to a breaking report from Bloomberg, the Supreme Court is set to deliver a major victory for President Trump on the census citizenship question.
JUST IN: The U.S. Supreme Court has signaled support for Trump's 2020 Census citizenship question pic.twitter.com/FB5NaNH0CX
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) April 23, 2019
In what some called the most important election of our lifetime, far more than just the Presidency was at stake in the 2016 election.
Since defeating Hillary Clinton, Trump has succeeded in making the Supreme Court more conservative, successfully getting Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh confirmed.
Key U.S. Supreme Court justices seemed inclined to let the Trump administration add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census in a clash that will shape the allocation of congressional seats and federal dollars.
In an 80-minute argument Tuesday that was both technical and combative, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh directed almost all their questions to the lawyers challenging the decision to ask about citizenship. Kavanaugh said Congress gave the Commerce secretary “huge discretion” to decide what to ask on the census.
Opponents say a citizenship question could result in a census undercount in areas with large non-citizen populations that could shift congressional districts and federal funds away from those communities.
“There’s no doubt that people will respond less,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. “That’s been proven in study after study.”
The case is the court’s first direct look at an administration initiative since the justices upheld President Donald Trump’s travel ban last year. It will test the court’s willingness to defer to an administration that critics say has a penchant for cutting legal corners.
In a book-length opinion in January, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said that in deciding to add the citizenship question, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross committed a “veritable smorgasbord” of violations of the federal law that governs administrative agencies. That law requires officials to make major decisions through a reasoned process and to give an honest explanation for their actions.
The Trump administration says evidence that the question would depress participation in the census and reduce its accuracy was unclear enough that Ross was justified in overriding the recommendation of experts at the Census Bureau. Ross also said the citizenship question would help the Justice Department enforce the Voting Rights Act.
“There’s no evidence in this record that the secretary would have asked this question had the Department of Justice not requested it,” said Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the administration’s top courtroom lawyer.
The court’s liberal justices were skeptical, noting that Ross and his aides solicited the Justice Department letter, obtaining it only after failing to procure a request from the Homeland Security Department and after Ross personally asked then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“It really did seem like the secretary was shopping for a need,” Justice Elena Kagan said. “You can’t read this record without sensing that this need is a contrived one.”
Justice Samuel Alito countered by pointing to the Census Bureau’s conclusion that a question would produce answers from 22 million people for whom the government lacks citizenship information in other databases. The Census Bureau estimated that about 98 percent of those answers would be accurate.