Supreme Court Blocks Trump Administration's Citizenship Question in Census Case


Dealing a blow to President Donald Trump, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that attempts by the administration to add a citizenship question to the United States census must be reviewed further by lower courts in the coming months.

The decision to remand the case, though not a total loss for the Trump administration, means the question will not appear on the 2020 census given that the U.S. Census Bureau must begin printing questionnaires on July 1, 2019, according to the Washington Examiner.

According to the court, however, the constitutionality of the citizenship question was not at the heart of the matter. Rather, it was inadequate rationale provided by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross for the question’s inclusion which brought the court to its decision.

Ross had argued the question’s inclusion would provide for better enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

“(T)he decision to reinstate a citizenship question cannot be adequately explained in terms of [the Department of Justice’s] request for improved citizenship data to better enforce the VRA,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority decision, according to The Hill.

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“Several points, considered together, reveal a significant mismatch between the decision the Secretary made and the rationale he provided,” he added.

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Roberts split the bench five to four in its decision, joining with the court’s Democrat-appointed justices to remand the case.

The chief justice did, however, go on to concede that Ross’s choice was not “substantively invalid.”

Instead, Roberts’ wrote that the the Commerce Secretary’s rationale was “contrived” and that “agencies must pursue their goals reasonably … What was provided here was more of a distraction.”

Justice Clarence Thomas railed against the decision, arguing that the court’s questioning of the agency’s “sincerity” was unprecedented and “extraordinary” — ultimately suggesting that the decision “unjustifiably interferes with the 2020 census.”

“For the first time ever, the court invalidates an agency action solely because it questions the sincerity of the agency’s otherwise adequate rationale,” Thomas wrote.”

“This conclusion is extraordinary,” he added. “The court engages in an unauthorized inquiry into evidence not properly before us to reach an unsupported conclusion.”

Congressional Democrats lauded the decision on Twitter, accusing the Trump administration of lying to place the question in the 2020 questionnaire.

“We know the purpose of adding a citizenship question to the Census: to suppress participation in immigrant communities for partisan reasons,” Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff tweeted. “Today, five Supreme Court Justices saw through the Trump Administration’s pretext.”

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“For now, the integrity of the census is preserved,” he added.

Prominent conservative figures denied these nonsensical claims of racial intent, however, outraged that Roberts — a Republican appointee — would join with the court’s leftist justices to allow for non-citizen criminals to be included in the questionnaire.

“RT if only AMERICAN CITIZENS should be counted on the United States Census!” Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk wrote.

Fox News contributor and political activist Matt Schlapp was another such figure outraged by the decision, arguing that a questionnaire meant to determine the U.S. population and resulting numbers of congressional representatives should not be influenced by illegally immigrants.

“If the census is not about determining the number people legally in the country to determine congressional populations then the most basic idea of a Republic has been destroyed,” Schlapp wrote.

“I’m for impeaching the Chief Justice for lying to all of us about his support of the Constitution,” Schlapp said in another tweet. “He is responsible for Robertscare and now he is angling for vast numbers of illegal residents to help Dems hold Congress. Enough Deception from GOP judges on the Constitution.”

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Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosted the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.