While the U.S. Census Bureau predicted earlier this year that it would need additional time to complete its count due to the coronavirus pandemic, it later revised that need to forecast a conclusion of the process by the end of September.
A subsequent lawsuit had been filed with the goal of extending the count throughout the end of this month, but the U.S. Supreme Court stopped a lower court ruling that would have granted the extension, as reported by Fox News.
Plaintiffs file suit
In a typical year, the census concludes by the end of July, providing ample time to deliver a report to the executive branch by year’s end.
That deadline is vital in allowing the administration in power to apportion federal spending and congressional representation, among other things.
For that reason, the Trump administration had opposed an extension that might delay his report. If he receives the data by Dec. 31, he will be able to oversee the apportionment regardless of next month’s election results.
Trump previously announced that the census count would wrap up by the end of last month, prompting a suit on behalf of various plaintiffs who argued that the shortened timeline could result in some people — particularly in minority, rural, and tribal communities — being underrepresented, as Politico reported.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh sided with the plaintiffs and pushed the end of the census count back to Oct. 31. A three-judge appeals panel upheld the order, but it was knocked down in an unsigned order by the nation’s highest court.
“Hundreds of thousands of people”
As a result, the census has been approved to conclude on Thursday.
Sotomayor was the lone dissenter, expressing her belief that an accurate count was more important than an expedient one and arguing that the plaintiffs could suffer extended harm if the census proved inaccurate.
Notably, the Census Bureau released an update on Tuesday confirming that it had already counted 99.9% of U.S. households — about two-thirds of which completed a questionnaire via mail, phone, or internet. The remainder were contacted in person by census takers.
That was not sufficient for Sotomayor, who wrote that just “a fraction of a percent of the Nation’s 140 million households amounts to hundreds of thousands of people left uncounted.”
Regardless of those concerns, the majority Supreme Court opinion means this fight is over for now and Trump has chalked up another important win with less than three weeks left until Election Day.