Supreme Court stops 2020 Census count

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FILE – This Sunday, April 5, 2020, photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit. The U.S. Census Bureau has spent much of the past year defending itself against allegations that its duties have been overtaken by politics. With a failed attempt by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question, the hiring of three political appointees with limited experience to top positions, a sped-up schedule and a directive from President Donald Trump to exclude undocumented residents from the process of redrawing congressional districts, the 2020 census has descended into a high-stakes partisan battle. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the federal government to stop counting for the 2020 U.S. Census a month earlier than originally planned.

President Donald Trump’s administration had asked the nation’s high court to suspend a district court’s order permitting the 2020 census to continue through the end of the month. The Trump administration argued that the head count needed to end immediately so the U.S. Census Bureau had enough time to crunch the numbers before a congressionally mandated year-end deadline for turning in figures used for deciding how many congressional seats each state gets.

A coalition of local governments and civil rights groups had sued the Trump administration, arguing that minorities and others in hard-to-count communities would be missed if the count ended early. They said the census schedule was cut short to accommodate a July order from Trump that would exclude people in the country illegally from the numbers used to decide how many congressional seats each state gets.

The high court put on hold a lower court ruling that ordered the once-in-a-decade population count to continue until Oct. 31.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented against the ruling.

“The harms caused by rushing this year’s census count are irreparable. And respondents will suffer their lasting impact for at least the next 10 years,” Sotomayor wrote.

In a previous high court filing by the Secretary of Commerce, which is in charge of the Census process, the government argued that the agency would have trouble meeting the Dec. 31 deadline for the Census only because of court delays.

“There is no reason to mandate another 21 days of field operations. The Bureau has already achieved levels of enumeration consistent with other recent censuses,” Jeffery B. Wall, the acting solicitor general, wrote on behalf of the federal government.

According to the Census Bureau, 99.9% of housing units were accounted for in the 2020 Census as of Sunday.

With plans for the count hampered by the pandemic, the Census Bureau in April had proposed extending the deadline for finishing the count from the end of July to the end of October and pushing the apportionment deadline from Dec. 31 to next April. The proposal to extend the apportionment deadline passed the Democratic-controlled House, but the Republican-controlled Senate didn’t take up the request. Then, in late July and early August, bureau officials shortened the count schedule by a month so that it would finish at the end of September.

By sticking to the Dec. 31 deadline, control of the apportionment of Congressional seats count would remain in the hands of the Trump administration no matter who wins the presidential election next month.

This is a developing story. Refresh for details.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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