The Supreme Court refused to postpone an upcoming lawsuit on Friday, in which a number of states and civil rights organizations claimed that the decision by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to issue a citizenship question on the census of 2020 was inadmissible on political grounds.
The trial is scheduled to begin on Monday in New York.
Judges Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch said they had agreed to the Trump Administration's request to postpone the hearing. It is unclear how the other six – including the new Justice Court Brett M. Kavanaugh – voted because the judges do not have to publish their votes in such proceedings. But at least five of the six did not want to block the process.
The administration has been to the Supreme Court several times to prevent the challengers from questioning Ross and other government officials about their motivation for adding the question. Attorneys at the Ministry of Justice finally called on the court to postpone the case.
The Citizens Challenge challengers hailed the court's refusal to do so.
"DOJ has tried every trick in this book (and some others) to block this case – and failed every time," said Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood (D), in a statement. "You really have to wonder what they are trying to hide."
Democratic lawmakers and groups of immigrant rights have the idea to add the issue of citizenship. They claim that immigrants and their families are less likely to complete the form, which would lead to a more costly and less accurate census.
Six former census directors and an internal Census Bureau analyst also said the question would hurt the count. This, in turn, could cost states with a high population of immigrants in the congressional and federal funds, which are distributed on the basis of the population.
The question has been asked in the past, but it has been decades since it was part of the routine ten-year census. The government has said that any challenge to the Commerce Department's action should be based on the administrative files, rather than investigations into how key government officials have decided they should be added.
Attorney General Noel J. Francisco told the court that Ross had explained his actions and said it was inappropriate for courts to "authorize a pushy fishing expedition involving senior government officials, including a cabinet secretary."
In an unsigned statement on October 22, the Supreme Court blocked Ross's dismissal, approved by lower federal courts in New York. But it was said that other discoveries could progress, including the dismissal of a senior Justice Department official.
There are six legal challenges in including a question about the citizenship of a census surveyor.
The states and organizations that filed the lawsuits say it's critical to investigate the intentions of the officers. Ross has offered "shifting and inaccurate explanations" in his decision-making protocols and statements before the Congress, as well as in new documents filed in the case, said one submitted by the New York Immigration Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union and others Opinion.
Ross initially said he had added the citizenship question at the instigation of the Ministry of Justice stating that this was necessary to enforce voting rights.
However, e-mails showed that he had previously pushed for the inclusion of the issue of citizenship, and groups and states claim that the Justice Department's request was a pretext.
In a document filed in response to questions from Underwood, Ross admitted he was discussing the matter with former White House Advisor Stephen K. Bannon and a Republican Secretary of State who was a leader in anti-immigration efforts would have.
In the document, Ross said he remembers that Bannon had called him in the spring of 2017 to ask if Ross would talk to Kansas Foreign Minister Kris Kobach about ideas for a possible citizenship question in the census.
This seems to contradict Rosss statement to Congress this year. At a March 20 hearing from Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) When asked whether the President or anyone in the White House had discussed the citizenship issue with him, Ross said, "I do not know about it."
The trial is scheduled to begin next week in US New York District Judge Jesse Furman. He has rejected the Trump government's request for delay and has been assisted by Panels of the US Circuit Court.
Francisco was late in calling on the Supreme Court and said, "The most efficient way forward is to stay the proceedings and clarify whether the district court must limit its review of the secretary's decision to the administrative act, while the district has sufficient time to conduct his review, followed by an immediate appeal exam. "
Otherwise, Francisco said, there will be a full trial involving "whether the minister harbored a secret racial animus to reinstate a civic issue for the ten-year census."
If the judge made such a finding, Francisco said, "the damage would not be fully (or even largely) rectified [the Supreme Court] then the review of the district court was limited to the administrative file. "
Tara Bahrampour contributed to this report.