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Photo: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Tuesday approved the Trump administration's emergency application to stop census field operations early while litigation over the once-a-decade count continues in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Why it matters: Civil rights groups fear that cutting off field operations now could lead to an undercount, which would affect how congressional seats are reapportioned.

Context: Lower courts had previously ordered the Commerce Department to continue counting through Oct. 31, but the Trump administration argued that the census must move to the complex data processing phase immediately in order to have time to meet an end-of-year deadline.

  • Local governments and civil rights groups sued over the plan to stop the count early, arguing that the Trump administration was seeking to accommodate a July order from the president that would exclude unauthorized immigrants from the census, per AP.
  • That order was blocked by a three-judge federal panel in New York in September, but the Trump administration appealed to the Supreme Court.

What they're saying: Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only justice to comment on the order, writing in a dissenting opinion the court "normally does not grant extraordinary relief on such a painfully disproportionate balance of harms."

  • "The Government articulates a single harm: that if data collection continues through October 31, the Bureau will not meet the December 31 statutory deadline to report census results to the President. But it is unlikely the District Court’s injunction will be the cause of the Bureau’s inability to do so."

The big picture: Throughout the count, city officials have grown frustrated with a lack of communication from the Census Bureau and frequent process changes that have confused residents — particularly those who are historically less likely to respond, such as minority and low-income communities.

  • The coronavirus pandemic also complicated the count by preventing some in-person events, door-knocking campaigns and other strategies to boost responses.

Go deeper: This year's census may be the toughest count yet

Go deeper

Updated Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden to sign 15 executive actions on Day One

President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to sign 15 executive actions upon taking office Wednesday, immediately reversing key Trump administration policies.

Why it matters: The 15 actions — aimed at issues like climate change and immigration — mark more drastic immediate steps compared with the two day-one actions from Biden's four predecessors combined, according to incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Food delivery "ghost kitchens" face major obstacles

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The growing popularity of food delivery has given rise to startups that open "ghost kitchens" — kitchens in warehouses or trailers that prepare food solely for delivery and have no option to dine in.

  • But they can come with a whole host of problems.

The big picture: The concept of "ghost kitchens" has been dubbed the next big thing in the future of services, with high profile backers like Uber founder Travis Kalanick. But these kitchens can be hard to run or unsafe.

3 hours ago - Health

Federal judge blocks Biden vaccine mandate for health workers

President Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant at the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers at federally funded facilities nationwide.

The big picture: The order comes one day after a federal judge in Missouri halted the mandate, which has a Jan. 4 deadline, in 10 states.