Nov 3, 2018

4. Supreme Court declines request to delay 2020 census citizenship question trial

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

The Supreme Court on Friday declined to delay a trial set for Monday in New York City that will examine the legality of the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Why it matters: This is a significant victory for the 18 states and a handful of cities and advocacy groups challenging the census question. Solicitor General Noel Francisco on Monday sought the high court’s intervention after a Manhattan federal judge and an appeals court last week both refused to postpone the trial. 

The Supreme Court declined the Trump administration's request without comment. In the filing, "Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, and Justice Gorsuch would grant the application" to delay the trial. The hearing will proceed November 5 and the plaintiffs released who they plan on questioning that day.

The context: The lawsuit, one of six challenging Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' decision to ask census respondents about their citizenship status, argues that the move is politically motivated. Critics of Ross' decision argue that non-citizens and undocumented immigrants might decline to participate, and that it would undermine the accuracy of the census, which is used to determine electoral boundaries and the distribution of federal funds among states. 

The administration, however, argues that adding the question would better enable the Justice Department to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

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