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US Supreme Court Conservatives Appear to Support Citizenship Question on Census

© AFP 2023 / KAREN BLEIER US Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. (File)
US Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. (File) - Sputnik International
The census data is used for allotting seats in US House of Representatives and distributing federal aid. Considering undocumented migrants may be scared away from the census by the citizenship question, the Democrats are in hot water now.

The US Supreme Court appears to be tilting towards granting the Trump administration's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross a victory in an argument with Democrats regarding the inclusion of a citizenship question in the upcoming 2020 US Census questionnaire, Reuters reports.

The court has a 5-4 conservative majority and has already supported US President Donald Trump in other high-profile cases, including the 2018 travel ban from predominantly Muslim countries and Trump's decision to ban transgender people from military service earlier last year.

The US Supreme Court building - Sputnik International
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Two lawsuits against the introduction of a citizenship question were filed by a group of states and localities led by New York, along with a coalition of immigrant rights groups, Reuters reports. The initiative enjoys support of 17 states, according to Fox News.

Should the Supreme Court rule to support Trump's initiative, it will overrule a lower court's decision, which banned the citizenship question.

According to its proponents, the inclusion of a citizenship question would allow better enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in voting.

Opponents say many undocumented migrants staying in the US will shy away from participating in the census over fears that their personal information could be disclosed to law enforcement agencies. This will lead to a population undercount, liberals note. According to estimates by the Census Bureau, the question might repel some 6.5 million people from taking part in the census.

The census figures are used to allot seats in the House of Representatives and distribute federal aid, which amounts to some $800 billion in federal funds. With migrants out of the picture, the Democrats will suffer and Republicans will benefit from wider electoral representation, as will Republican-leaning parts of the country, Reuters notes.

A sign for the U.S. Census Bureau headquarters campus. File photo - Sputnik International
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Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that citizenship data is critical for enforcing the Voting Rights Act. Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh argued that such practices are "very common" internationally. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch noted that "it's not like this question is improper to ask," challenging the notion that a citizenship question would significantly reduce response rates, according to Reuters.

Three district courts — in California, New York and Maryland — ruled against Ross' initiative, arguing that the administration had violated federal law and the US Constitution. A ruling by the Supreme Court is due by the end of June. Should the Supreme Court rule in favor of the initiative, the citizenship question will return to the census for the first time since 1950, USA Today reports.

In the meantime, the former head of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs is pushing for inclusion of a question about veterans in the census questionnaires. Terry Schow, a Vietnam veteran, wants the 2020 census to ask about veteran status so the state can have a more accurate count of people with military service, the Standard-Examiner reported Saturday.

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