Supreme Court Allows Trump Administration To End Census Early

Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour / Public Domain


The Supreme Court granted a Trump administration request to halt counting while an appeal plays out in a lower court.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily allowed the Trump administration to end counting for the 2020 census earlier than planned while an appeal plays out in a lower court, meaning racial and ethnic minorities could be undercounted.

  • “Lower courts previously ordered the administration to keep counting through Oct. 31, reverting to an extended schedule Trump officials had first proposed in April in response to delays caused by COVID-19 and then abruptly decided to abandon in July,” according to NPR.
  • The Trump administration sought to stop counting early “in order to determine the number of House seats and electoral votes each state gets for the coming decade” before Trump might leave office, USA Today reported.
  • Justice Department attorneys said the Census Bureau is under pressure to meet the legal deadline of Dec. 31 for reporting census results to the president, but career census bureau officials have said that deadline is unattainable due to the pandemic.
  • NPR noted that "Judges in lower courts have also noted that the national counts from the years 1810 through 1840 were delivered late and Congress later stepped in to approve deadline extensions."

More time, judges have ruled, would give the bureau a better chance of getting an accurate and complete count of the country's residents, which is used to determine how political representation and federal funding are distributed among the states over the next decade.

  • If the census results are reported to Trump by Dec. 31, he could try to follow through with his plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count, which would affect the reallocation of House seats.

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