The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday to reject the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census — for now.
The Trump Administration said it wanted to add the question to enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters' access to the ballot box. Those who opposed the move feared it would discourage the participation of minorities in elections.
During arguments in the case at the Supreme Court in April, it seemed as though the court was on the side of the Trump administration. In those arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts and other conservatives appointed by Republican presidents did not appear to see anything wrong with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add the question. Ultimately, however, Roberts joined the court’s four more liberal members in a 5 to 4 vote. In the decision, Roberts wrote that the explanation offered by the Trump administration "seems to have been contrived" and that it was “more of a distraction” than an explanation.
“It's an important ruling for the country as a whole because this has been a ploy by the Trump administration to identify non-citizens,” demographer Kurt Metzger said during a conversation on Stateside. “Now we have this question about the possibility of pushing the Census Bureau back in terms of printing while this decision goes on.”
In a tweet posted after the decision, President Donald Trump said he asked lawyers if they could “delay the Census, no matter how long” until the “United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision” on the issue.
Seems totally ridiculous that our government, and indeed Country, cannot ask a basic question of Citizenship in a very expensive, detailed and important Census, in this case for 2020. I have asked the lawyers if they can delay the Census, no matter how long, until the.....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2019
The administration previously said it wants to the census questionnaires to be completed by the end of the month.
Under federal law the census must begin on April 1, 2020. A former director of the Census Bureau said he believed Congress would have to change the law in order for the count to be delayed.
Mark Sherman and Jessica Gresko of the Associated Press contributed to this report.
For Kurt Metzger's full conversation with Stateside, please click on the audio file at the top of the post.