Will The U.S. Census Actually …

Another controversial Trump administration policy had its day in the Supreme Court today: Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The issue at hand was whether Trump’s Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, had the right to add the question. And whether it matters that the question may lead to a massive undercounting of immigrants.

Trump has the advantage of having two of his appointees — Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — on the bench. And by the end of the 80-minute arguments, it seemed they and the other conservatives were ready to side with the administration.

The Census takes place every 10 years, as required by the Constitution. The results are used to determine how many congressional seats, and how many Electoral College votes, each state gets. They also help determine how almost $900 billion in federal funding is allocated.

The 2010 Census asked 10 basic questions of every household in America: How many people lived there, how old they were, what their race, ethnicity, and gender were. It didn’t ask whether people were citizens or not. The government did ask a citizenship question in every census between 1890 and 1950. It was taken out by 1960.

But last year, the Bureau announced it was bringing the question back. It claimed the Justice Department needed the citizenship data to properly enforce the Voting Rights Act. But civil rights groups thought Ross’s real motive was to drive down immigrant participation. So they sued and won at lower-level courts in New York and California.

With surveys scheduled to be printed this summer, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

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