Supreme Court 5-4 ruling blocks census citizenship question

The Supreme Court of the United States is forbidding President Donald Trump’s administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census for now. The court said the Trump administration’s explanation for wanting to add the question was “more of a distraction” than an explanation.

It’s unclear whether the administration would have time to provide a fuller account. Census forms are supposed to be printed beginning next week.

The court ruled 5-4 on Thursday, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the four liberals in the relevant part of the outcome.

A lower court found the administration violated federal law in the way it tried to add a question broadly asking about citizenship for the first time since 1950.

The Census Bureau’s own experts predicted that millions of Hispanics and immigrants would go uncounted if the census asked everyone if he or she is an American citizen.

The census question — along with the court’s final-day 5-4 ruling upholding politically gerrymandered congressional districts — could help shape the distribution of political power for the next decade. Roberts’ vote was decisive in both cases.

Decisions in those cases, which pitted five conservative justices appointed by Republican presidents against four liberals appointed by Democrats, also could amplify criticism of the court as a political institution, despite Roberts’ repeated efforts to combat that perception.

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