Supreme Court grants Trump administration request to end Census count
The Supreme Court granted the Trump administration's motion to end the census before the end of this month and overturned a federal court order requiring the census bureau to continue the census through October 31.
The lawsuit that sparked the case was filed by civil rights groups including the National Urban League, who argue that the government plans to end the counting process early despite attempts to extend the process to account for delays caused by the COVID- 19 pandemic lead to inaccurate data that would damage disadvantaged communities disproportionately.
MORE: Federal judge says count must continue through October 31st
The administration asked the Supreme Court to overturn the order given in the case after it partially lost an appeal to the Ninth Circuit. The government argued that the census needed to be stopped as soon as possible in order to complete data analysis on time and meet the legal deadline for reporting census information to the President and Congress by December 31.
The Supreme Court's decision to overturn a lower court order requiring the bureau to keep counting until the end of this month means the Census Bureau could end the count soon and move into an accelerated analysis phase to try to meet that deadline.
PHOTO: An envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident is pictured in Glenside, Pennsylvania on March 19, 2020. (Matt Rourke / AP, FILE)
The Census Bureau did not respond to a request for comment on the next steps for Census operations.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor disagreed, saying the damage from an inaccurate count was irreparable and the government had previously stated that the deadlines could not be met anyway.
PHOTO: A census worker receives information from a man during a promotional event in Times Square in New York City on September 23, 2020. (Brendan Mcdermid / Reuters)
Melissa Arbus Sherry, a Latham & Watkins attorney who argued the case, said that while the Supreme Court ruled in disagreement with her, the time spent on census operations as a result of her case resulted in millions more Americans were counted.
"Every day has mattered, and the Supreme Court's order to maintain the injunction does not erase the tremendous progress that has been made as a result of the District Court's rulings. While the Court has not explained its reasoning, Judge Sotomayor has recognized the problematic facts The defendant's behavior underscores the importance of the plaintiffs' efforts in this critical case, "she said in a statement.
The Census Bureau reported that 99.9% of households in the US were counted, with 33.1% of that count being done by local census participants.
Census data is used to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds for health care, housing programs, and education. The data is also used to determine representation in congressional districts for the next 10 years.
MORE: The judge accuses the Trump administration of breaking the law in the census and proposes a contempt trial
Tuesday's decision makes it more likely that Trump and the Republicans will be involved in the process that will determine how many house seats will be allocated to each state - a process known as splitting - even if it loses the election.
Once the count is complete, the Census Bureau usually spends several weeks analyzing the data and ensuring that it is correct. According to the law, the Commercial Secretary reports the division to the President by December 31st.
The President then sends Congress, usually by early January, a statement of the number of legal representatives per state. This information is used by states to draw legislative and congressional districts.
Earlier this year, the Census Bureau announced that the schedule was no longer possible due to the pandemic and indicated that the schedule would be postponed. But instead of working with Congress to account for a delay, the Department of Commerce ordered its Census Bureau to complete the census.
The commercial department says it complies with the law. However, by fighting in court to meet the deadline, the Trump administration is plowing its way towards that December-January period - to alleviate worries about relinquishing final allotment obligations to a Democratic administration if Trump loses.
PHOTO: A view of the US Supreme Court on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC (Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images)
The Supreme Court has not yet ruled a separate case as to whether the administration can exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment process used to determine congressional districts. The judges will discuss later this week whether or not to give an oral statement on the case.
ABC News' Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.
The Supreme Court grants the Trump administration a motion to end the census, which was originally posted on abcnews.go.com
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