AP

Court Hears Arguments Over Citizenship Question On Census

Apr 23, 2019, 10:14 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:10 pm
FILE photo...
FILE photo

WASHINGTON (AP) — Conservative Supreme Court justices were mostly silent Tuesday as a Trump administration lawyer defended the government’s plan to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census , an indication the court’s majority may be inclined to side with the administration.

Critics say adding the question would discourage many immigrants from being counted, leading to an inaccurate count, and liberal justices peppered the administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer with questions as the court began hearing more than an hour’s worth of arguments in the case. But the liberals would lack the votes to stop the plan without support from at least one conservative justice.

How the justices rule could affect how many seats states have in the House of Representatives and their share of federal dollars over the next 10 years.

Three federal courts have blocked the Commerce Department from adding the citizenship question. Those courts have ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated federal law in the way he went about trying to include the question for the first time since 1950. They found that millions of Hispanics, who tend to vote for Democrats, and immigrants would go uncounted.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s only Hispanic justice, told Solicitor General Noel Francisco that the result of adding the citizenship question to the census “is about 100% that people will answer less.” Fellow liberals Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan also expressed concern with the way Ross went about trying to add the question, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pressed Francisco on why the citizenship question was dropped decades ago.

Only two of the court’s five conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, asked brief questions of Francisco.

Kavanaugh, an appointee of President Donald Trump and the court’s newest member, suggested Congress could change the law to specifically bar a citizenship question if its members are so concerned that the accuracy of the once-a-decade population count will suffer.

Lower court judges dismissed Ross’ contention that adding the citizenship question, and the detailed information it would produce on where eligible voters live, is needed to aid in the enforcement of the federal Voting Rights Act.

Two of the three judges also ruled that asking if people are citizens would violate the provision of the Constitution that calls for a count of the population, regardless of citizenship status, every 10 years.

Census Bureau experts have concluded that the census would produce a more accurate picture of the U.S. population without a citizenship question because people might be reluctant to say if they or others in their households are not citizens. Federal law requires people to complete the census accurately and fully.

The Supreme Court is hearing the case on a tight timeframe, even though no federal appeals court has yet to weigh in. A decision is expected by late June, in time to print census forms for the April 2020 population count.

The administration argues that the commerce secretary has wide discretion in designing the census questionnaire and that courts should not be second-guessing his action. States, cities and rights groups that sued over the issue don’t even have the right to go into federal court, the administration says. It also says the question is plainly constitutional because it has been asked on many past censuses and continues to be used on smaller, annual population surveys.

Opponents of the question obtained documents and testimony that showed Ross had begun pressing for a citizenship question soon after he became secretary in 2017, and that he had consulted Steve Bannon, who had been President Donald Trump’s top political adviser, and then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Emails showed that Ross himself had invited the Justice Department request to add the citizenship question.

The Supreme Court has sent somewhat conflicting signals about how it might resolve the case. The justices allowed the first trial, in New York, to take place, over the administration’s objection. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas would have halted the trial.

The high court also prevented the challengers from taking sworn testimony from Ross, though it allowed the questioning of other officials.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

AP

Hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Inmate serving life for fatal Vegas bombing escapes prison

Authorities are searching for a 42-year-old convicted bombmaker who escaped from a Nevada prison where he was serving a life sentence for a deadly 2007 explosion outside a Las Vegas Strip resort. Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered an investigation into the incident late Tuesday after he said his office learned the escapee had been missing from the medium-security prison since early in the weekend. Porfirio Duarte-Herrera was convicted in 2010 of killing the boyfriend of his co-defendant's ex-girlfriend using a motion-activated coffee cup bomb placed atop a car parked at the Luxor hotel-casino. The blast initially raised fears of a terrorist attack on the Strip.
21 hours ago
Gabriela Solis prepares a dose of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine at an L.A. County vaccination site ...
AMANDA SEITZ Associated Press

Vaccine appears to protect against monkeypox, CDC says

U.S. public health officials say at-risk people who have received just one dose of the monkeypox vaccine have appeared to be significantly less likely to get sick from the virus. Still, on Wednesday they urged a second dose for full protection. It's the first look public health officials have offered into how the Jynneos vaccine is working against the monkeypox outbreak. The virus is primarily spread among men who have sex with infected men.
21 hours ago
Rapper PnB Rock, seen here in June 2021, in Beverly Hills, California, was fatally shot during a ro...
Associated Press

Woman, minor arrested in shooting of rapper PnB Rock in LA

Two people have been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of rapper PnB Rock and Los Angeles police are searching for a third suspect they warned should be considered armed and dangerous.
21 hours ago
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a celebration of the 1990 passage of the Americans...
AAMER MADHANI, Associated Press

Biden to oil industry: Don’t raise prices as hurricane nears

President Joe Biden is warning the oil and gas companies against increasing prices for consumers as Hurricane Ian nears landfall along Florida’s southwest coast.
21 hours ago
Katie Couric speaks on stage during the Daily Front Row Fashion Media Awards at The Rainbow Room on...
DAVID BAUDER, AP Media Writer

Katie Couric says she’s been treated for breast cancer

Katie Couric says she was diagnosed with breast cancer on the first day of summer, and since has undergone surgery and radiation treatment.
21 hours ago
FILE (Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Mountain lion attacks boy, 7, at Southern California park

Authorities say wildlife officers are tracking a mountain lion that attacked a 7-year-old boy at a Southern California park.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Court Hears Arguments Over Citizenship Question On Census