SCOTUS Hears Census Citizenship Case Today-Updated

Canary. Photo by 4028mdk09.

Update: The case is over and now we wait for late June for their decision.

Seven months ago we started following what started out with six cases making their way through the court system, now the Associated Press reminds us that today is the day the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the long-embattled decision and the highly questionable circumstances surrounding how, why, and when the decision Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross made to reinstate a citizenship question on the decennial census questionnaire after he lied in testimony to Congress in March 2018.

Much has been made about the fact that the citizenship question was taken out in 1950 and has not been included since that time, and with good reason. We have a history in this country of misusing census data.

It was used to enact Japanese internment in the 1940s. In 1950 the United States added confidentiality protections to the census after World War II to prevent such an abuse from happening again.

Safeguards include adding the “72-Year Rule” that says the US government “will not release personal identifiable information about an individual to any other individual or agency until 72 years after it was collected.” For example, the next census data 72-year release will be in 2022 for the year 1950. It was in 2012 they released the decennial census records for 1940.

Also, according to the Census Bureau website, it is against Federal law, Title 13 [pdf], to share private information with FBI, ICE, DOJ or other LE and any “personal information cannot be used against respondents by any government agency or court.

It has been a convoluted ride of twists and turns of internal emails showing lies and cover-ups being exposed, with warnings having to be issued to Ross from one judge in his final ruling – We are a nation of laws, not of men.

By January it was thought the case did not make the cut of cases to be heard this term after the justices cancelled a February 19 hearing on the matter, but by mid-February, the date was set for April 23.

“Vast changes in America and technology have dramatically altered the way the census is conducted. But the accuracy of the once-a-decade population count is at the heart of the Supreme Court case over the Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.” (AP)

Federal judges in California , Maryland and New York have blocked the administration from going forward with a citizenship question after crediting the analysis of Census Bureau experts who found that a question would damage the overall accuracy of the census and cause millions of Hispanics and immigrants to go uncounted. That in turn would cost several states seats in the U.S. House and billions of dollars in federal dollars that are determined by census results.

The three judges have rejected the administration’s arguments that asking about citizenship won’t harm accuracy and that the information is needed to help enforce provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act.

The Census Bureau’s consistent view since the 1960 census has been that asking everyone about citizenship “would produce a less accurate population count,” five former agency directors who served in Democratic and Republic administrations wrote in a Supreme Court brief .

The case is Department of Commerce v. New York, 18-966.

Judge Jesse M. Furman of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled on January 15 that Ross’s decision to add the question violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law that governs the way that administrative agencies can propose and establish regulations.

Furman said that the decision ran counter to the evidence in the record and failed to consider important aspects of the issue while also contradicting established procedures.


As of the last update, on March 15, Wilbur Ross was called to testify under oath in front of the new Democrat led House Oversight and Reform Committee.

According to the Committee on Oversight and Reform .gov website press release posted after the hearing,

Secretary Ross refused to tell the Committee about conversations with senior administration officials, including Jeff Sessions, that led to the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Secretary Ross cited vague concerns about “confidentiality” but provided no valid basis to withhold this key information from the Committee.

Secretary Ross would not commit to provide the Committee a copy of a secret memo that the Commerce Department hand-delivered to DOJ just weeks before DOJ requested a citizenship question.

Secretary Ross also claimed that he had not reviewed the President’s budget request for the 2020 Census.

During the hearing, the Committee released new evidence from a transcribed interview with DOJ official John Gore. The evidence raises more troubling questions about the real reason Secretary Ross orchestrated the addition of the citizenship question. 

The Supreme Court will be hearing oral argument on April 23, 2019.

On a side note, last Friday, SCOTUS agreed to the government’s request to expand the scope to the case to include a recent ruling in a different, but parallel case, they say they plan to appeal from U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco which went further saying that Ross violated the Enumeration Clause because “a citizenship question would lead to a less accurate count, violating the constitutional requirement of an “actual enumeration” of the population every 10 years.” (BloombergNBC)

Effectively, once again, bypassing the appeals process and asking the high court to rule on a separate matter.


After hearing oral arguments today, the justices have indicated there will be a decision by late June to “allow for printing forms in time for the count in April 2020.”

On A Side Note (Opinion)

Say what may be said about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ideology, but in this writer’s opinion, it cannot be said with any intellectual honesty as far as I am concerned, that this is a lady who doesn’t know strategy.

Watch once again as she lays down a perjury trap that Ross jumps into head first. I do not have to like her ideology to respect her intelligence. She shines in committee hearings.

She is not wrong here, either, and her strategy with it is brilliant in shining light on a broken system that we all know is broken.

About the opinions in this article…

Any opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this website or of the other authors/contributors who write for it.