US Supreme Court halts census in latest legal twist

The U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau

To give the Census Bureau the time it said it needed, Congress would have had to extend the deadlines. "Census numbers are used to calculate the federal-state mixture of funding for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and Transitional Aid to Needy Families".

Tens of thousands of temporary census takers had been hired by the U.S. Census Bureau to knock on the doors of homes whose residents hadn't filled out their forms.

However, the ruling increased the chances of the Trump administration retaining control of the process that decides how many congressional seats each state gets - and by extension how much voting power each state has. "There are many states that weren't impacted (by the coronavirus pandemic) in the early phases of the Census and were able to go about their business and do this, and those are not the east coast or the west coast states, they are the red states, for lack of a better term".

Mail-in census forms must be postmarked by October 15th to be counted.

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The Trump Administration previously tried to move up the count's deadline to September.

President Donald Trump's administration had asked the nation's high court to suspend the district court's order permitting the 2020 census to continue through the end of the month.

Boyce, who co-chaired the Complete Count Committee here in Central Ohio, says that the sudden loss of two weeks hurt their effort to complete the constitutionally-mandated headcount of every person living in the country. The panel of three appellate judges said that just because the year-end deadline is impossible to meet doesn't mean the court should require the Census Bureau to miss it.

"Every day has mattered, and the Supreme Court's order staying the preliminary injunction does not erase the tremendous progress that has been made as a result of the district court's rulings", said Melissa Sherry, one of the attorneys for the coalition.

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Advocates still hold out hope that Congress will pass legislation that will extend the apportionment deadline from December 31 to the end of next April in order to give the Census Bureau enough time to check the quality of the data, remove duplications and fill in missing information with administrative records. Due to COVID, however, that deadline was extended - to August, then extended again to the end of October. Opponents fear the administration will depart from past practice and leave out people who are in the USA illegally - Trump has directed the Census Bureau to do just that for the apportionment count, but that now is being fought in court.

An estimated 10.5 million households have self-responded to the Census, with around 2.4 million of those being in the hardest-to-count areas.

Residents could respond to the 2020 Census through their phone.

"That is lower for the state of Texas in 2020 than it was in the last census", she said.

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