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posted Friday, October 16, 2020 - Volume 48 Issue 42
SCOTUS OKs end to census count
Section One
ALL STORIES
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SCOTUS OKs end to census count

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The US Supreme Court gave the OK for the Trump administration to terminate the US Census count in an October 13 ruling.

The high court granted an emergency request from the administration to overturn a lower court ruling extending the counting.

As is typical for rulings on emergency requests, the high court's order was unsigned. Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion in the case.

The administration's plans to end the census count early had been challenged by several parties who argued that because of the COVID pandemic, more time was needed to ensure an accurate count.

The census date is used to allocate House seats and federal money.

Lower courts previously ordered the administration to keep counting through October 31. More time would give the bureau a better chance of getting an accurate and complete count of the country's residents, the lower courts ruled.

In her dissenting opinion, Sotomayor wrote that "meeting the deadline at the expense of the accuracy of the census is not a cost worth paying, especially when the Government has failed to show why it could not bear the lesser cost of expending more resources to meet the deadline or continuing its prior efforts to seek an extension from Congress."

In a statement, Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the attorneys who helped bring the lawsuit to extend the census schedule, noted that the order "will result in irreversible damage" despite the challengers' efforts to "secure more time on the clock to achieve a fair and accurate count."

Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community - one of the lawsuit's plaintiffs - called the ruling "a bitter pill for us to swallow here on the Reservation" in Arizona.

"With no explanation or rationale, a majority simply decided that our people do not deserve to be counted, thus continuing a long history of leaving Indian peoples at the margins of the US society at large and economy," Lewis said in a statement.

Despite the Constitution's requirement to include the "whole number of persons in each state" and the president's limited authority over the census, Trump wants to try to exclude unauthorized immigrants from those numbers.

That effort has sparked another legal fight that is also before the Supreme Court. On Friday, the court is set to discuss whether to hear oral arguments for that case in December.

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