In a partial victory for the Trump administration on Monday, the Supreme Court granted its request to block a deposition of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a lawsuit challenging the inclusion of a question about citizenship in the 2020 census. However, the Supreme Court failed to block the deposition of acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore, a senior Justice Department official.
According to CNN, the Supreme Court’s order blocking the deposition needed at least five Justices to pass but was unsigned and did not include a recorded vote. However, an opinion written by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and joined by Justice Clarence Thomas revealed that they would have blocked both depositions.
The lawsuit being brought by plaintiffs including the state of New York and immigrant groups alleges it is unconstitutional for the the federal government to ask in its upcoming census whether residents are United States citizens. The suit alleges government officials acted in bad faith in choosing to implement this policy.
Justice Gorsuch was spot on in his analysis of the case, still yet to be heard on constitutional grounds: “Of course, some people may disagree with the policy and process. But until now, at least, this much has never been thought enough to justify a claim of bad faith and launch an inquisition into a cabinet secretary’s motives.”
The reality is the census is meant to count the population to allocate electoral votes and the number of House seats each state should have. The Constitution is silent as to who should be counted, but it makes logical sense for citizens to be the only ones counted. After all, non-citizens do not vote for their representatives, so it does not make sense to allocate more representatives for states with non-voters.
Based on these preliminary rulings, the Supreme Court appears to be ready to deliver more blows to the lawsuit challenging this policy.