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questioning questions
November 17, 2018

The Supreme Court has opted to hear arguments over President Trump's administration's decision to add a question of citizenship to the 2020 census.

The question, which would directly ask if "this person is a citizen of the United States," has been challenged in six lawsuits around the U.S. This has led to disputes over what evidence can be brought up during the trials, and if Trump officials' motives in enacting the addition can be discussed as well. But the Supreme Court's timing on this decision is "curious," seeing as the controversial census is already undergoing one trial in New York, The Washington Post writes.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the addition in March, originally claiming the Justice Department ordered the move. But documents unveiled in one of the lawsuits later showed Ross talked about adding the question with former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, suggesting Ross drove the change himself. Ross and other administration officials' motivations for the addition are now slated for discussion in the forthcoming Supreme Court hearing.

The Trump administration has fought to block Ross from facing questioning over the matter, and last month the Supreme Court refused to allow the deposition of Ross in the New York case, per NPR. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman has scheduled closing arguments in the New York case for Nov. 27, while the Supreme Court has the case slated for next February.

The citizenship question has faced criticism from advocates who say undocumented people will avoid answering the census out of fear. That would lead to undercounts in Democrat-heavy areas, and perhaps cut federal aid that undocumented immigrants in those areas rely on. Kathryn Krawczyk

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