Supreme Court Chief Justice joined the four liberal members of the court in a 5-4 decision that rejected the Commerce Department’s plan to ask if census respondents are citizens.
Mostly liberal states fought to remove the question, claiming it would deter both legal and illegal immigrants from filling out the form, resulting in an under count of people.
Writing for the majority, Roberts said the Commerce Department can include the question as long as it can properly justify changing a longstanding census practice. He went on to write that the Trump administration’s justification was “contrived,” and did not appear to be the genuine reason for the change. By casting doubt on the reasons presented by the Commerce Department, Roberts implied the question could have been created for political reasons.
There is little time left to include the question, but it’s not impossible. The Commerce Department could offer myriad reasons for the question, including to get an accurate count of citizens.