On Thursday, the Supreme Court handed the Trump government a setback in its attempt to restore a long-abandoned citizenship question to the American census. President Trump's Trade Minister gave a false answer to why he wanted to know how many non-citizens live in the US. the country.
The Commerce department, which carries out the census every ten years, has the power to make reasonable decisions about what to ask and why, according to the Supreme Court. But given Minister Wilbur Ross's deception, a lower court must reopen the question of whether his argument is correct.
& # 39; All in all, the evidence yields a story that does not match the statement the Secretary made for his decision & # 39 ;, wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.
The resulting delay, warned the government last week, will hamper its efforts, as census forms will soon have to be printed so that the agency can meet its constitutionally required deadlines.
The Supreme Court beat Prime Minister Wilbur Ross's attempt to add a citizenship question to the US census of 2020, saying he was misleading in his statement why he would be restored for the first time since 1950.
Writing for the 5-4 majority of the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said that although Ross has the authority to make administrative decisions, his stated reasons are not consistent with the facts of the case and should be assessed by a lower court
Census forms should be printed soon, the Trump administration says, meaning more delays in court can challenge demand until at least 2030
Democrats have complained that asking US residents whether they are citizens will prevent illegal immigrants and other non-Americans from participating, resulting in a less accurate head count. That, they say, would unfairly change the composition of the House of Representatives and the Electoral College and deny federal funding to minority regions with a greater chance of accommodating illegal immigrants.
Ross stated that it is necessary to know how many citizens live in the country and where they live in order to enforce parts of the law on voting rights.
Roberts wrote in Thursday's long-awaited decision that & # 39; s decision to restore a citizenship question cannot be adequately explained in terms of DOJ & # 39; s request for better citizenship data to better enforce VRA. & # 39 ;
Ross, the court stated, & # 39; began taking steps to restore [citizenship] demand to his term of office each week, but gives no indication that he was considering VRA enforcement. & # 39;
President Donald Trump said this month that it is & # 39; completely ridiculous & # 39; is to hold a census without asking who is and is not an American citizen, but his aging trade secretary seems to have hidden his motivations to do it
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion alongside the liberal wing of the Supreme Court in a slap to Wilbur Ross and Donald Trump
And while government agencies have both & # 39; explained and undeclared reasons & # 39; have to make decisions, the judges ruled: & # 39; the reasoning of VRA enforcement – the only reason stated – seems to have been made up. & # 39;
Although the decision itself is not & # 39; substantively invalid & # 39; was, Roberts wrote, & # 39; agencies should reasonably pursue their goals & # 39 ;.
And Ross & # 39; s explanation & # 39; was more a distraction. & # 39;
Ross said in a statement from Congress that a letter from the Justice Department asking for citizenship data to enforce the VRA gave him the idea of putting it back in the Census.
But he later admitted that he had already considered it after just one week after taking office in January 2017 – and he stated that the Ministry of Justice should formally ask him about it.
The American Civil Liberties Union told a court in April that it had found an unpublished document from a Republican Party adviser, arguing that the real purpose of a citizenship question was to dilute the voting power of minorities.
The Justice Department said that none of its officers in the VRA command structure had ever seen the newspaper.
Administrative decisions such as those affecting the Census fall under the Administrative Procedures Act, which says that bureaucrats on a & # 39; random or whimsical & # 39; able to act that way.
Sending the question back to a lower federal court means that the Commerce Department still has a chance to explain its reasoning, but the clock will continue to weigh.
Because the agency comes up against printing deadlines for census forms, it may run out of time – causing it to submit the idea of a citizenship question for another 10 years.
The Trump government argued in a court this month that postponing the decision by even three or four months would require the Census & # 39; exceptional resources & # 39; would spend to do his job.
The Commerce Department says it must complete the questionnaire before July 1.
President Trump said this month that it would be absolutely ridiculous if we held a census without asking & # 39; whether respondents are citizens.
He has already claimed the privilege of the executive with regard to census-related documents, preventing House Democrats from learning what led Ross and Attorney General William Barr to restore the issue of citizenship.
Until 1950, people of the population asked a citizenship question.
Democrats have threatened both Barr and Ross with contempt for contempt for refusing to surrender the documents.
Virginia Demorcatic Senator Tim Kaine said in a statement: "I am glad that the issue of citizenship will remain out of the census for the time being, and I hope it will stay that way."
& # 39; Turning the census into an ideological tool to intimidate immigrants is immoral and could lead to Virginia being appraised next year, reducing our share of federal dollars. & # 39;
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