A Mixed Bag on the Court’s Last Day with an Unforced Error on the Census

Today the Supreme Court concluded its October 2018 term with three decisions, including two of the most closely watched of the term. I have reviewed here the Court’s commendable decision in Rucho v. Common Cause, recognizing that the Constitution does not authorize courts to redraw districts in response to challenges to partisan gerrymandering.

In Department of Commerce v. New York, however, the Court dropped the ball on the challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to reinstate a question about citizenship in the census. At any other time in history, an administration’s decision to do so would have been considered unremarkable. The census has traditionally asked a host of questions about background that include race, sex, age, Hispanic origin, and living arrangements. Census authorities have been asking about citizenship status in one form or another for nearly all of the past 200 years, whether as a component of the decennial census or since 2005 as part of the American Community Survey (ACS), an annual survey that reaches a rotating sample of about 2.6% of households …

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