White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the administration's plans to include a controversial question about citizenship status in the 2020 census, saying it's "necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters."

Why it matters: The move announced by Commerce Department late Monday sparked immediate outrage from Democrats, civil rights groups and liberal state attorneys general who argue it would discourage non-citizens from responding, resulting in a less accurate population count.

"It contains data necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters and specifically to help us comply with the Voting Rights Act."
— Sarah Sanders

The decision was made "at the departmental level" with assistance from the Justice Department but the White House supports it, said Sanders, who later added that she's not aware of how non-citizens would be affected.

Other highlights from the briefing:

  • Opioid crisis: The White House plans to open an exhibit next month to educate visitors about the impact of the opioid crisis. It will include an installation of a wall of 22,000 engraved white pills with faces of those lost to prescription drug overdoses.
  • On Trump silence after Stormy Daniels interview: "The president has denied the allegations. I have nothing further... We've addressed it, we've addressed it extensively and there's nothing new to add."
  • On the border wall: Trump "still has plans to look at potential ways" for Mexico to pay for proposed border wall.

Go deeper

How the Supreme Court could decide the election

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Supreme Court isn't just one of the most pressing issues in the presidential race — the justices may also have to decide parts of the election itself.

Why it matters: Important election-related lawsuits are already making their way to the court. And close results in swing states, with disputes over absentee ballots, set up the potential for another Bush v. Gore scenario, election experts say.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 32,844,146 — Total deaths: 994,208 — Total recoveries: 22,715,726Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 7,078,798 — Total deaths: 204,497 — Total recoveries: 2,750,459 — Total tests: 100,492,536Map.
  3. States: New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June — U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.

Graham hopes his panel will approve Amy Coney Barrett by late October

Sen. Lindsey Graham during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News Saturday he expects confirmation hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court to start Oct. 12 and for his panel to approve her by Oct. 26.

Why it matters: That would mean the final confirmation vote could take place on the Senate floor before the Nov. 3 presidential election.