The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Thursday that the Trump administration cannot add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The court said the administration's explanation for the addition was insufficient, though Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was within his authority when adding the question. "We are presented, in other words, with an explanation for agency action that is incongruent with what the record reveals about the agency's priorities and decisionmaking process," reads the decision. Opponents of the addition feared a question about citizenship could suppress representation and funding allocation for areas with many undocumented immigrants, who may avoid the census entirely as a result of the question.
The limited ruling was supported by the court's more liberal justices, along with Chief Justice John Roberts. "We cannot ignore the disconnect between the decision made [to include the citizenship question] and the explanation given [of Voting Rights Act enforcement]," the concurring justices wrote. The dissenting justices only dissented "in part" with the ruling.
While the ruling is a win for states that sued to stop the question from being added, the court didn't close the matter entirely — it sent the case back to a lower court for further review, reports HuffPost. The Trump administration could continue to fight the case, and attempt to come back with a stronger explanation that the court might accept, though there may not be time before the census must be finalized and printed for distribution. Additionally, the court left the door open for the question to be added in future years.
Read the full opinion here.