Supreme Court will hear arguments over census citizenship question

(CNN)The Supreme Court wades into a bitter controversy on Tuesday over whether the Trump administration can ask all recipients a citizenship question on the 2020 census for the first time since 1950.

The justices will hear the administration’s claims that the question is necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law, versus arguments by critics who say it represents a veiled attempt to intimidate noncitizens and Hispanic households and will lead to a decrease in response rates.Every lower court to consider the issue has so far blocked the administration from adding a question about citizenship status to the census questionnaire, holding that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who has jurisdiction, exceeded his authority under federal law and the Constitution by doing so.How the justices rule in the case — with the 2020 count fast approaching — could impact the critical dataderived from the census, which is used for issues such as the allocation of congressional seats and the distribution of billions of federal dollars to states and localities over the next decade.”The Constitution requires that everyone in America be counted, it’s a basic principle of our democracy that representation be allocated equally to states based on their populations,” said American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Dale Ho, who is set to argue for the challengers on Tuesday. “The addition of this question is an attack on that basic constitutional principle that will impact the entire country, and hurt the representation of minorities.”Lower courts have ruled against the Trump administrationLower courts have ruled against the government, pointing to the administration’s shifting rationale for reinstating the question, and held that the way the government proceeded was illegal.Ross’ decision was unlawful for a “multitude of independent reasons and must be set aside,” Judge Jesse M. Furman of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in January in a 277-page opinion after holding an eight-day trial.Furman said Ross’ decision to add the question violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law that governs the way agencies can propose and establish regulations. He said Ross failed to consider several important aspects of the issue and “alternately ignored, cherry-picked or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record before him.”Most critically, Furman said Ross’ stated rationale for the question, to promote the enforcement of the Voting Right Act, was “pretextual — in other words, that he announced his decision in a manner that concealed its true basis rather than explaining it” as the Administrative Procedure Act required him to do, the judge held.Read the entire article here:

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