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Thu Jun 27, 2019, 09:57 AM

Supreme Court blocks 2020 census citizenship question in setback for Trump admin

Source: CNN

Washington (CNN) The Supreme Court has blocked a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census for the time being in a major setback for the Trump administration. The bitter controversy centers around whether the administration can ask all recipients a citizenship question on the 2020 census for the first time since 1950.

Writing for a 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts concluded that there was sufficient reason for concern about why the Commerce Department wanted to add the question. Roberts had the support of the four liberal justices."If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case," he wrote.

The decision raises the question of whether the administration will have enough time or the ability to add the citizenship question before the census begins. The administration previously told the court that the questionnaire needed to be printed by the end of June.

The data obtained from the 2020 census is used for the allocation of congressional seats and the distribution of billions of federal dollars to states and localities over the next decade. The Trump administration claimed the citizenship question on the census questionnaire is necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law. Critics argued it is an attempt to intimidate noncitizens and Hispanic households and will lead to a decline in response rates and underrepresentation of minorities. President Donald Trump has said the census would be "meaningless" without the citizenship question.

Read more: https://us.cnn.com/2019/06/27/politics/census-supreme-court/index.html



Original CNN article -

Supreme Court blocks 2020 census citizenship question

Washington (CNN) The Supreme Court has blocked a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census for the time being.

The bitter controversy centers around whether the Trump administration can ask all recipients a citizenship question on the 2020 census for the first time since 1950.

The data obtained from the 2020 census is used for the allocation of congressional seats and the distribution of billions of federal dollars to states and localities over the next decade.

The Trump administration claimed the citizenship question on the census questionnaire is necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law. Critics argued it is an attempt to intimidate noncitizens and Hispanic households and will lead to a decline in response rates and underrepresentation of minorities.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

https://us.cnn.com/2019/06/27/politics/census-supreme-court/index.html


Read the decision (PDF)

Updated WaPo article

Supreme Court puts census citizenship question on hold

By Robert Barnes
June 27 at 11:23 AM

The Supreme Court on Thursday put on hold the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census form sent to every household, saying it had provided a “contrived” reason for wanting the information. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the splintered opinion. In a section agreed with by the court’s liberals, he said the Commerce Department must provide a clearer explanation.

Agencies must offer “genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public,” Roberts wrote. “Accepting contrived reasons would defeat the purpose of the enterprise. If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case.” Roberts said a district judge was right to send the issue back to the Commerce Department for a better explanation.

A string of lower-court judges found that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated federal law and regulations in attempting to include the question on the census. They starkly rebutted his claim that the information was first requested by the Justice Department to enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects minorities, and they noted his consultations with hard-line immigration advocates in the White House beforehand.

What happens next was not immediately clear, because the department had said it must know by the summer whether the question can be added.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-puts-census-citizenship-question-on-hold/2019/06/27/6b2a49cc-93cb-11e9-b570-6416efdc0803_story.html


Original WaPo article -

In mixed ruling, Supreme Court blocks census citizenship question for now, calling Trump administration's explanation 'contrived'

By Washington Post Staff
June 27 at 10:59 AM

The administration had argued that asking the citizenship question of all households would provide more accurate information and that it is needed for the Justice Department to protect minority voting rights.

A coalition of Democratic-led states, cities and civil rights organizations had opposed the effort, calling it a political move that will intimidate households with ties to noncitizens and result in a significant undercount that will harm the nonpartisan goal of getting an accurate tally of everyone in the country.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2019/06/27/in-mixed-ruling-supreme-court-blocks-census-citizenship-question-for-now-calling-trump-administrations-explanation-contrived/?utm_term.b3bdc27665ae

26 replies, 3563 views

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Arrow 26 replies Author Time Post
Reply Supreme Court blocks 2020 census citizenship question in setback for Trump admin (Original post)
BumRushDaShow Jun 2019 OP
mahatmakanejeeves Jun 2019 #1
pnwmom Jun 2019 #2
DrToast Jun 2019 #3
jberryhill Jun 2019 #5
DrToast Jun 2019 #6
jberryhill Jun 2019 #9
DrToast Jun 2019 #10
jberryhill Jun 2019 #12
onenote Jun 2019 #25
jberryhill Jun 2019 #4
LineLineReply !
rurallib Jun 2019 #8
mahatmakanejeeves Jun 2019 #7
ScratchCat Jun 2019 #11
BumRushDaShow Jun 2019 #13
jberryhill Jun 2019 #16
BumRushDaShow Jun 2019 #17
cstanleytech Jun 2019 #14
BigmanPigman Jun 2019 #26
asiliveandbreathe Jun 2019 #15
MosheFeingold Jun 2019 #18
jberryhill Jun 2019 #19
MosheFeingold Jun 2019 #23
jberryhill Jun 2019 #24
zaj Jun 2019 #22
mahatmakanejeeves Jun 2019 #20
BumRushDaShow Jun 2019 #21

Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 09:59 AM

1. Here's the opinion in Department of Commerce v. New York. Amy will have our analysis:

Here's the opinion in Department of Commerce v. New York. Amy will have our analysis:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-966_bq7c.pdf

Source: https://www.scotusblog.com/2019/06/live-blog-of-opinions-46/

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:10 AM

3. Roberts again

Although it's not over yet. I wish he would have just shut it down.

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Response to DrToast (Reply #3)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:13 AM

5. The main part of the decision is unanimous

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #5)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:14 AM

6. What was the main part of the decision?

Writing for a 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts concluded that there was sufficient reason for concern about why the Commerce Department wanted to add the question. Roberts had the support of the four liberal justices.


https://us.cnn.com/2019/06/27/politics/census-supreme-court/index.html

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Response to DrToast (Reply #6)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:24 AM

9. Part I

Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court with respect to Parts I and II, and the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts III, IV–B, and IV–C, in which Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined; with respect to Part IV–A, in which Justices Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan and Kavanaugh joined; and with respect to Part V, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan joined. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined. Justices Breyer filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined. Justice Alito filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

----

https://casetext.com/case/department-of-commerce-v-new-york


The conclusion of Part I stating:


Altogether, the evidence tells a story that does not
match the explanation the Secretary gave for his decision.
In the Secretary’s telling, Commerce was simply acting on
a routine data request from another agency. Yet the
materials before us indicate that Commerce went to great
lengths to elicit the request from DOJ (or any other willing
agency). And unlike a typical case in which an agency
may have both stated and unstated reasons for a decision,
here the VRA enforcement rationale—the sole stated rea-
son—seems to have been contrived.

We are presented, in other words, with
an explanation for agency action that is incongruent with what the record
reveals about the agency’s priorities and decisionmaking
process.

It is rare to review a record as extensive as the
one before us when evaluating informal agency action—
and it should be. But having done so for the sufficient
reasons we have explained, we cannot ignore the discon-
nect between the decision made and the explanation given.
Our review is deferential, but we are “not required to
exhibit a naiveté from which ordinary citizens are free.”
United States v. Stanchich, 550 F. 2d 1294, 1300 (CA2 1977)
(Friendly, J.). The reasoned explanation require-
ment of administrative law, after all, is meant to ensure
that agencies offer genuine justifications for important
decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and
the interested public. Accepting contrived reasons would
defeat the purpose of the enterprise. If judicial review is to
be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something
better than the explanation offered for the action taken in
this case.

In these unusual circumstances, the District Court was
warranted in remanding to the agency, and we affirm that
disposition. See Florida Power & Light Co. v. Lorion, 470
U. S. 729, 744 (1985). We do not hold that the agency
decision here was substantively invalid. But agencies
must pursue their goals reasonably. Reasoned deci-
sionmaking under the Administrative Procedure Act calls
for an explanation for agency action. What was provided
here was more of a distraction.

-------

Actual court decisions are infinitely preferable to synopses of them by the likes of CNN.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #9)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:35 AM

10. The 5-4 ruling seems to be the most important one

Why do you consider Part 1 the main part?

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Response to DrToast (Reply #10)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:45 AM

12. Because it is the operative unanimous affirmation of the District Court


the District Court was
warranted in remanding to the agency, and we affirm that
disposition


So the DC decision stands, and the agency has to come up with an actual rationale.

Ultimately, the agency won't be able to do that, because the whole reason for the charade in the first place was to avoid confirming what the actual rationale was.

The entire point of the case revolves on the proposition that the question was included for improper purposes. We know, in fact, that it was included for improper purposes.

That is why the agency is fighting the District Court's decision to remand to the agency for further, and truthful, information on why the question was sought to be included. They know they don't have a proper rationale for the question.

Maybe I should back up and explain what the point of this litigation is about, but I thought that was fairly widely understood, no?

Nobody is disputing the authority of the agency to include or not include questions in the census. What is in dispute is whether the agency included the question here for an improper purpose, and without a sufficient rationale.


In other words, the court unanimously agreed with what is going to happen, in any practical sense.
They disagree on portions of the rationale.

Maybe I can put that another way.

Let's say that there are 9 people who want to beat you up.

5 of them want to beat you up because they think you are annoying, and don't have an issue with the way you look.

4 of them want to beat you up because they don't like the way you look, but they don't have any problems with your behavior.

The result is a 9-0 decision that you are going to get beat up. Period.

There is a 5-4 decision on why you are going to get beat up - because you are annoying. But, at the end of the day, you are going to get beat up.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #9)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 04:45 PM

25. While I have great respect for your legal acumen, you are mistaken in this instance

The language you quote above as being from Part I of the Opinion of the Court is actually from Part V. And the vote on Part V (upholding the remand to the agency) was 5-4 with Roberts, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan in the majority.

The only parts of the opinion of the Court that were unanimous were Parts I and II. Part I was basically descriptive, reciting the history of the case and the issues presented. No surprise that there was no dissent to that Part. Part II addressed the preliminary issue of jurisdiction and in particular, standing. Again, it was not entirely surprising that the Court was unanimous on that issue (maybe a bit surprising). But neither I nor II, the unanimous portions of the Court's Opinion, addressed the merits of the case. With respect to the merits issues, the Court was divided.

On the issue of whether the addition of the citizenship question violated the Constitution's Enumeration clause (Part III), the issue of whether the addition of the question was an "abuse of discretion" (Part IV-B) and the question of whether the addition of the question violated provisions of the Census Act (Part IV-C), the Court divided 5-4 with Roberts, Gorsuch, Alito, Thomas, and Kavanaugh in the majority.

On the issue of whether the Secretary of Commerce had total, completely unreviewable discretion to adopt the citizenship question (Part IV-A), the Court divided 7-2 with Roberts, Thomas, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Breyer, Kagan and Kavanaugh in the majority (and Alito and Gorsuch dissenting).

Finally, on the issue of whether the stated reason for adopting the question was pretextual and, as a result, should result in the matter being remanded to the agency, the vote was, as noted above, 5-4.

One other point: while the Court acknowledges that the District Court considered and rejected arguments that the addition of the citizenship question violated the Equal Protection Clause, it did not address that issue. As such, it appears to have left that issue to the District Court to decide per the Fourth Circuit's recent decision.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:12 AM

4. Every Admin Law Professor just had an orgasm

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #4)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:24 AM

8. !

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:24 AM

7. In mixed ruling, SC blocks census citizenship question for now; admin's explanation 'contrived'

In mixed ruling, Supreme Court blocks census citizenship question for now, calling Trump administration’s explanation ‘contrived’


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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:41 AM

11. Here is the highlight

"We do not hold that the agency decision here was substantively invalid. But agencies must pursue their goals reasonably. Reasoned decisionmaking under the Administrative Procedure Act calls for an explanation for agency action. What was provided here was more of a distraction. "

Basically, the justices called out the Trump Administration for being full of shit.

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Response to ScratchCat (Reply #11)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:49 AM

13. Basically... but then it still leaves the issue open

where it could be included again but with a better justification (probably because it had been done in the past and you know how those were "the good old days" ).

The one thing that might keep it at bay is the timing of getting the forms printed and ready for distribution. But they could say f-that and include it anyway, starting the court process all over again with a "better" justification - but then doing so would hopefully again result in a stay at the lower court levels and the SCOTUS wouldn't take it up again until after the census process is already underway when it would be too late (maybe).

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #13)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:56 AM

16. They don't have a better justification

That's the problem.

The APA doesn't let them come up with a post-hoc rationale. The justification has to be in the record leading up to the decision. They can't go back and invent a new record.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #16)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 11:00 AM

17. We would have hoped the SCOTUS would have upheld (what's left of) the VRA

and the multiple amendments in the Constitution with respect to voting too but seems they can add wiggle room when they feel like it....

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:49 AM

14. Any empty opinion in my opinion after Roberts vote supporting gerrymandering.

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Response to cstanleytech (Reply #14)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 07:59 PM

26. Same here!

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 10:55 AM

15. And, considering the SCOTUSblog is open to the public..one of the comments....

It is appalling that the Supreme Court basically called the Secretary of Commerce a liar. Whatever happened to comity between coordinate branches of government?

Their heads are exploding....how dare you call a liar, a liar. .....and in response, one of the court bloggers ....to above comment..


It is a noticeable rebuke from a Court that has thus far been willing to give this Administration the benefit of the doubt in a lot of other situations.

In plain sight..

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 11:12 AM

18. Read the opinion, people

It did not block the question.

It said the agency just has to give a reason for the question, which is a VERY low standard.

This is a delay of the inevitable, not a win.

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Response to MosheFeingold (Reply #18)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 11:23 AM

19. "which is a VERY low standard"


...and one which they were unable to meet in the first place, which is why they appealed the District Court decision remanding to them for a better one.

In other words, if you believe they can easily satisfy the standard, why do you think they bothered to appeal this thing twice now, instead of doing that?

I have read the opinion, btw. The unanimous conclusion to Part I is scathing.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #19)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 01:47 PM

23. They took a "because I said so"

Approach in the district court.

We all know why Trump wants to get a count of non-citizens, and it's bad.

But there are 100 perfectly valid reasons --- from facilitation the allocation of educational resources, ESL resources, to tax and voting concerns that are perfectly legitimate reasons to collect this information. Heck, it even relates reasonably to the shaping of Congressional voting districts.

They'll prop up some guy who wants this information for a perfectly good reason, and that will be that.

Long way of saying, Justice Roberts turns the knife slowly while pretending to be a nice guy.

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Response to MosheFeingold (Reply #23)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 02:21 PM

24. It seems they attempted an ostensible justification....


...which was determined to be merely pretextual.


" In March 2018, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced in a memo that he had decided to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 census questionnaire at the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ), which sought census block level citizenship data to use in enforcing the Voting Rights Act (VRA)."

"After a bench trial, the District Court determined that respondents had standing to sue. On the merits, it ruled that the Secretary’s action was arbitrary and capricious, based on a pretextual rationale, and violated the Census Act, and held that respondents had failed to show an equal protection violation."

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Response to MosheFeingold (Reply #18)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 12:28 PM

22. It may be that...

... the SC just needs someone else to submit a new and clear rationale. That Wilbur Ross is tainted. Maybe even the whole Trump administration is tainted. And maybe it is not going to be included in the 2020 census.

But it seems that the SC just left the door open to a future GOP administration without this paper trail, to do the same thing while giving a generic justification. And winning SC approval at that time

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 11:39 AM

20. The SCOTUS ruling on the Census question teaches us a valuable lesson:

CockedAndLoadedHat Retweeted

The SCOTUS ruling on the Census question teaches us a valuable lesson: If you are trying to skew future elections toward your party, do not explain it in a file named EVILPLAN.xls


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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #20)

Thu Jun 27, 2019, 11:50 AM

21. Those Popehat accounts are wild

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