The Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments early next year on lawsuits challenging the addition of a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, acting with unusual speed in a politically charged case. The justices will consider the Trump administration’s bid to limit the evidence that can be used in the challenge, which has been the subject of a trial in federal court in New York. The Supreme Court will hear arguments Feb. 19. Advocacy organizations and a New York-led group of a dozen states, cities and counties are suing, saying the citizenship question discriminates against immigrants and will reduce accuracy by lessening participation. A census undercount in areas with large numbers of non-citizens could shift congressional districts and federal dollars away from those communities.
The Supreme Court two weeks ago said a trial in the case could go forward, and Friday’s order doesn’t directly prevent U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman from issuing a ruling. Furman finished hearing evidence this week. The Census Bureau has said it plans to start printing the once-a-decade questionnaire by May.
President Donald Trump’s administration says the case should be limited to the administrative record — the materials that the Commerce Department says were used to make the decision to include the question.
The administration says Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acted in response to a request by the Justice Department, which had said the question would help with enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, the 1965 law that protects the rights of minorities at the polls.