SCOTUS Case Preview: Census Citizenship Question

April 12, 2019 by Dan McCue
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross speaks at the National Press Club Headliners Luncheon in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 2018. (Cheriss May/Sipa USA/TNS)

This is one of five noteworthy Supreme Court cases that will be heard between April 16 and April 23. You can read the other previews here:

Perhaps the most closely watched oral arguments over the next two weeks will be those for Department of Commerce v. New York, otherwise known as the Census/Citizenship Question case, on Tuesday, April 23.

The Justices are being asked to decide whether a federal judge erred in enjoining Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross from reinstating a question about citizenship to the 2020 census questionnaire.

In addition they will consider whether, when someone is seeking to set aside an agency action, a federal judge can order discovery outside the administrative record to probe the mental processes of the agency decision matter.

In considering this second element, the justices will weigh in on whether a lower court can compel the testimony of high-ranking executive branch officials when there is no evidence that the decision maker disbelieved the objective reasons for enacting the policy as stated in the administrative record, and that they acted in an illegal manner to adopt the policy.

After Commerce Secretary Ross announced he was reinstating a citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire, a coalition of states, cities, and counties challenged the decision in federal court.

The challengers claim the Secretary’s decision was arbitrary and capricious and that it violates various regulatory, statutory, and constitutional provisions.

The case was heard in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York which authorized, at the challengers’ request, depositions of executive branch officials to determine Ross’s subjective motivations in making the decision at issue.

The government sought a stay blocking that testimony, but their request was denied to give the court of appeals a chance to weigh in on the issue.

The court of appeals denied mandamus relief to quash the deposition of Secretary Ross and the deposition of other high-ranking officials, so the government renewed its application for a stay. The U.S. Supreme Court then blocked the deposition of Secretary Ross but allowed others to proceed.

The government then filed a petition asking the justices to direct the trial court to exclude fact-finding beyond the official records, or, in the alternative, review the appellate court decision itself.

Before the Court could rule, however, the district court issued its decision enjoining the Secretary from reinstating the question at issue. That action rendered the original case moot but raised the question of whether the district court properly issued the injunction.

The case is 18-966 Department of Commerce v. New York.

Supreme Court

Trump Scorns Supreme Court on Tax Rulings While His Records Stay Private
Supreme Court
Trump Scorns Supreme Court on Tax Rulings While His Records Stay Private

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump scored a tactical victory from the Supreme Court that will likely keep his personal financial records out of public view through the November election, but he framed Thursday’s two rulings as a loss imposed by his enemies. The president was rebuffed... Read More

Supreme Court Holds Large Piece of Oklahoma Belongs to Native American Tribe
Supreme Court
Supreme Court Holds Large Piece of Oklahoma Belongs to Native American Tribe
July 9, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a large part of eastern Oklahoma belongs to Native American tribes - a significant victory for a reservation that challenged the state's authority to prosecute crimes on its land. Writing for the majority, in the 5-4 decision, Justice... Read More

Constitution Does Not Bar Issuance of State Criminal Subpoena to Sitting President
Supreme Court
Constitution Does Not Bar Issuance of State Criminal Subpoena to Sitting President
July 9, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that neither Article II of the Constitution nor the Supremacy Clause categorically preclude or require a heightened standard for the issuance of a state criminal subpoena to a sitting president. The 7-2 ruling by the high court in... Read More

Supreme Court Rules Job Discrimination Laws Don’t Protect Church-School Teachers
Employment
Supreme Court Rules Job Discrimination Laws Don’t Protect Church-School Teachers

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday banned teachers who work at church-run schools from filing discrimination lawsuits against their employers, ruling that the Constitution’s protection for religious liberty exempts church schools from state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The justices, by a 7-2 vote, shielded two... Read More

Justices Allow Limited Access to Free Birth Control Under ACA
Supreme Court
Justices Allow Limited Access to Free Birth Control Under ACA
July 8, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a Trump administration regulation that lets employers with religious objections limit women’s access to free birth control under the Affordable Care Act. The 7-2 decision could have a profound, immediate effect on as many as 126,000 women who... Read More

Chief Justice John Roberts Briefly Hospitalized in June
Supreme Court
Chief Justice John Roberts Briefly Hospitalized in June
July 8, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Chief Justice John Roberts spent a night in the hospital last month after he fell and injured his forehead while walking for exercise near his home, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said Tuesday night. According to court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg, Roberts' injuries required sutures and... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top