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

13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett before a meeting on Capitol Hill on Oct. 21. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 52-48 on Monday to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. She is expected to be sworn in within hours.

Why it matters: President Trump and Senate Republicans have succeeded in confirming a third conservative justice in just four years, tilting the balance of the Supreme Court firmly to the right for perhaps a generation.

Amy Coney Barrett's immediate impact

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In her first week on the job, Amy Coney Barrett may be deciding which votes to count in the presidential election. By her third week, she’ll be deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

Where it stands: The Senate votes on Barrett’s nomination tomorrow. If she’s confirmed, Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to swear her in at the Supreme Court within hours, an administration official tells Axios.

Trump appointee resigns over order removing job protections for some federal workers

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Federal Salary Council Chair Ron Sanders resigned on Monday over President Trump’s recent executive order that strips civil service protections for some federal workers.

Why he's saying: Sanders, who was appointed by Trump in 2017, said he could no longer work for the president as “a matter of conscience.”