In Convoluted Ruling, SCOTUS Blocks Citizenship Question on Census

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appears before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to discuss preparing for the 2020 Census, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. The Trump administration acknowledged on Thursday that billions more dollars are “urgently needed” to ensure a fair and accurate count during the 2020 Census. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


Two big decisions were handed down this morning. One of them entailed whether the administration could add the citizenship question back to the census, where it had resided for some 175 years.

SCOTUS decided not.

This is very complicated and I’m not going to try to describe in detail every aspect of the decision. There were multiple parts to this and multiple votes on those parts. The short of it is that SCOTUS ruled that the question itself is constitutional and does not violate the Census Act, but they also ruled that the Commerce Department did not give a sufficient explanation during judicial review, therefore, they can’t use the question.

The partial dissent pointed out the obvious problem with ruling something constitutional and then arbitrarily deciding it can’t be done anyway.


Justice Alito also hit back.

While theoretically, Commerce could just come up with a more fleshed out explanation and probably win the case, the timing of all this makes it unlikely. Printing has to start this month and it’s unlikely a lower court would rush a decision.

As best as I can tell, John Roberts was a defector once again.


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