Feb. 15 (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court decided Friday to hear a case that will determine whether a question about citizenship will be on the 2020 Census.
The high court set arguments for the second week of April.
This could be the Trump administration’s most significant Supreme Court decision since the president’s travel ban was upheld last year. The high court avoided the census issue last year but chose to hear arguments in its April session.
Arguments will be heard a year after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross first announced the question would be added. A lower court barred the question from the 2020 census, pushing the case to the Supreme Court — which is expected to act quickly on the issue because the Census Bureau must start printing questionnaires by June.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said in his lower court ruling that by allowing the question, Ross acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner that violated federal law in a “veritable smorgasbord” of ways.
Asking about citizenship on the census has been highly controversial. Democrats argue the question, which was last asked in 1950, is too intrusive and could scare immigrant groups from taking the census at all, leading to an inaccurate count. Republicans argue the question makes voter fraud more difficult.
The census is a constitutionally-mandated count of the U.S. population conducted at the start of every decade. The survey directly impacts how many representatives each state is given in the U.S. House. It also determines how districts are drawn up. Experts say uncounted immigrants would likely hurt Democrats, as most migrants vote Democratic.
Mark Rosenbaum, director of Public Counsel’s Opportunity Under Law, said the bureau is supposed to be nonpartisan.
“The indisputable evidence is that Secretary Ross seeks to weaponize the Census by discounting people of color in low-income communities, turning it to a partisan advantage predicated upon deliberate falsification of the numbers,” he said.
The Supreme Court returned to full strength Friday. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was back for the first time since cancer surgery in December. The 85-year-old jurist missed two weeks of arguments in January but kept up with the legal briefs and transcripts by working from home.