Supreme Court says House can participate in arguments on census question

The Supreme Court said Friday that the House of Representatives will be able to participate in oral arguments later this month about the Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

In an unsigned order, the court said that representatives for the Democratic-controlled House would be given 10 minutes during the oral arguments to make their case against the question’s addition.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on April 23.

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In an amicus brief filed in the case, representatives for the House argue that Congress gave the Commerce Department the power to conduct the census, but that it intended for certain limits to be placed on that authority.

The brief also argues that the Commerce Department must follow the Enumeration Clause of the Constitution, which calls for an “actual enumeration” — or count — of the population in order to determine representation in Congress, and that the citizenship question could disrupt the ability to follow that clause.

“In attempting to add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 Census outside the agency’s ordinary processes and against the undisputed evidence that doing so would undermine the very purpose of the decennial census, the Department has disregarded both the substantive limitations and procedural safeguards that Congress created,” the brief reads.

The Trump administration’s announcement last year that it would add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 census was met almost immediately with several legal challenges.

Three federal judges this year have ruled against the question, but the high court’s ruling — to come out later this spring — will be the final word on whether the query can be added to the 2020 survey.

The Commerce Department, which oversees the census, has said that it added the question at the request of the Justice Department in order to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Critics argue that asking about citizenship will cause some individuals, like immigrants without legal status, to not fill out the census and lead to an undercount of the population. Census data is used to determine federal funding.

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