SCOTUS Rules: Census Count Can Finish Earlier Than Oct. 31
The US Supreme Court sided with the Trump Administration in a case involving this year’s census count, allowing the Department of Commerce, which runs the Census Bureau, to end the count earlier than October 31st.
- After initially announcing an extended end-date of October 31st due to the coronavirus pandemic, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross moved the end of the counting phase to September 30th.
- This date was pushed back to October 5th, but the deadline was reverted back to October 31st by a lower federal court’s ruling.
- The Commerce Department moved the counting end-date up to ensure the analysis and tabulation is completed by December 31st, a date mandated by law.
- The census, conducted every ten years, is used to determine congressional apportionment and federal funding allocation.
- The ruling does not officially force the counting to stop. It allows the Census Bureau to pause counting while a separate lawsuit regarding the Trump Administration’s efforts to exclude illegal immigrants in the count proceeds through federal court.
- The various counting end-dates are all later than the original July 31st target date, which was revised as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This was not the first controversy surrounding the 2020 Census. The Supreme Court previously ruled the Census Bureau could not include a question on respondents’ citizenship because the Bureau did not follow the proper administrative procedure.
- Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) reacted negatively, tweeting the ruling is an attempt to “undermine democracy”, and tied it to the current nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
- Slate said the ruling was a “sabotage” of the Census, and accused the court of allowing the Trump Administration to purposely undercount minority communities.
- The Census Bureau announced 99.9% of all households have been counted as of October 13th, strengthening the argument for ending the counting phase before the previously court-mandated October 31st deadline.
- Wall Street Journal notes that Mississippi and Louisiana sided with the administration’s efforts while the fight over shortening the deadline played out in lower federal courts.
- The Washington Times, called the ruling a “victory” for the Trump Administration, and reports the vast majority of census respondents submit answers online or via mail.
- The top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, Representative James Comer (R-KY), praised the Supreme Court’s decision as a “sensible, lawful decision on behalf of the American people to ensure the 2020 census is completed on time.”
© Dallas Gerber, 2020