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The Trump administration may end counting for the 2020 census after the Supreme Court has approved a request for now to suspend a lower court order that has extended the counting schedule.
The high court ruling, following an emergency request from the Justice Department last week, is the latest roller coaster turn in a legal brawl over the timing of the count.
Last-minute changes by the Census Bureau and failure to comply with a previous court order for tallying have left local communities and office workers in the United States unsure how long they will be able to take part in a national tally already overturned by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lower courts had previously ordered the administration to continue counting until October 31, returning to an extended schedule that Trump officials first proposed in April in response to delays caused by the pandemic and then abruptly decided to quit. in July.
More time, the judges determined, would give the office a better chance of obtaining an accurate and complete count of the country’s residents, which is used to determine how political representation and federal funding will be distributed among states over the next decade.
Lawyers for the Department of Justice say the Census Bureau is under pressure to meet a legal deadline of December 31 to report to the president the first set of census results: the latest state population counts that determine each state’s share of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. The numbers, in turn, also determine how many constituency votes each state has to determine who will become the president of the United States in 2024 and 2028.
Since May, however, career officials at the bureau have warned that the agency can no longer meet the December 31 reporting deadline due to the pandemic. The lower court judges also noted that the national counts from 1810 to 1840 were delivered late, and Congress later stepped in to approve the term extensions.
However, if the Secretary of Commerce, who oversees the office, submits the new state counts to the White House by December 31, this would ensure that even if President Trump didn’t win re-election, he could attempt to implement the unprecedented change. . he wants to do to whoever is counted in determining the reallocation of seats in the Chamber.
Despite the Constitution’s requirement to include “the whole number of people in each state” and the president’s limited authority over the census, Trump wants to try to exclude unauthorized immigrants from those numbers. This effort has sparked another legal battle which is also before the Supreme Court.