"Is this person a citizen of the United States?".
Despite evidence that millions of Hispanics and immigrants could go uncounted, the Supreme Court's conservative majority seemed ready Tuesday to uphold the Trump administration's plan to inquire about USA citizenship on the 2020 census in a case that could affect American elections for the next decade.
In an expanded 80-minute-long argument, the justices probed a technically complex and detailed case that could have broad and long-reaching consequences for millions of people around the country.
Critics say adding the question would discourage many immigrants from being counted, leading to an inaccurate count, and liberal justices peppered the administration's top Supreme Court lawyer with questions as the court began hearing more than an hour's worth of arguments in the case. In a now-infamous March 2018 memorandum, Mr. Ross said he considered adding the citizenship question after the Justice Department asked for it. That question could affect federal funding for Oregon.
"There's no doubt that people will respond less", Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. "I didn't find a reason".
The high court's decision is likely to be one of the biggest of a relatively quiet term.
The census case is about whether the Census Bureau can ask people if they are USA citizens. The results each decade are used to create congressional districts and determine how many electoral votes states have in a presidential election.
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A decision in the case, Department of Commerce v.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman barred the government from including the citizenship question in January. "Why doesn't Congress prohibit the asking of the citizenship question?"
Watch Democratic lawmakers speak about the case outside the Supreme Court.
How the justices choose to interpret what the district court learned will be significant, and different interpretations became apparent nearly immediately during today's oral argument.
Civil rights groups and the state of NY argue the question is an "arbitrary and capricious" matter that's politically motivated to under-count people in Democratic districts, especially where there's a strong immigrant population. "I have paid my fair share of taxes", she said through a translator. The Commerce Dept.is in charge of the census. "It's still asked in the American Community Survey", Esenberg says. That proposal would have the Census Bureau link various records from other agencies on citizenship with its own citizenship data. The government did ask a citizenship question in every census between 1890 and 1950.
This demographic shift has had a very real impact on US politics, and the trends are slated to continue. Some showed that he initiated contact with Justice Department officials. "There have been lots of assistant attorneys general in the (Justice Department's) Civil Rights Division that have never made a plea for this kind of data".
'Is it arbitrary and capricious?'
"Do you think it wouldn't help voting rights enforcement?"
Justice Neil Gorsuch can't wait to let states exclude noncitizens from redistricting. Including a citizenship question would "harm the secretary's stated objective of Voting Rights Act enforcement", Ho said.
-The Soros-funded Asian Americans Advancing Justice lobbying group condemned Trump as "racially and politically motivated".
Kavanaugh asked questions of both sides, but he also seemed to lean toward recognizing the secretary's authority and that the citizenship question did not seem so unusual.
Jurjevich said children, who are already historically undercounted in census data, especially could be affected by the citizenship question.
"It's certainly useful information for a country to have", replied Solicitor General Underwood. Of course the question should be included.
There were only a few occasions when the constitutionality of reinstating a citizenship question surfaced. And two of the three judges also ruled that asking if people are citizens would violate the provision of the Constitution. It is the first job the Constitution gives the government, before taxation, war powers, and making laws. "Immigrants are a part of that group that are hard to count", said Kate Warren, a research associate at the non-partisan Center for Community Solutions. Still Professor Nou says she is "surprised at how little attention the constitutional argument received".
They wondered what's changed that makes the Commerce Department's move to make it controversial to add the question back into the full census questionnaire going to all homes next year.
Customarily, a matter such as this one would face adjudication by a federal appeals court before being considered - or not considered - by the Supreme Court.