The U.S. Supreme Court, with only Justice Sotomayor dissenting, handed the Trump administration a win, staying a lower court order that had required the government to continue the Census count through the end of this month.

The Stay Order provided:

The application for stay presented to JUSTICE KAGAN and by her referred to the Court is granted. The district court’s September 24, 2020 order granting a preliminary injunction is stayed pending disposition of the appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is timely sought. Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate upon the sending down of the judgment of this Court.

Justice Sotomayor wrote a dissent, which reads in part:

Today, the Court stays a preliminary injunction requiring the Census Bureau to follow the data collection plan the agency once described as necessary to avoid “risking significant impacts on data quality.” Electronic Case Filing in No. 5:20–cv–5799, Doc. 198–7 (ND Cal., Sept. 22, 2020), p. 131 (ECF). The injunction required the Bureau to continue its data collection efforts until October 31, 2020, a deadline the Bureau itself selected in response to the significant operational disruptions caused by the COVID–19 pandemic. The Government now claims that this Court’s immediate intervention is necessary because, absent a stay, the Bureau will not be able to meet the December 31 statutory deadline for reporting census results to the President. This representation is contrary to the Government’s repeated assertions to the courts below that it could not meet the statutory deadline under any circumstances. Moreover, meeting the deadline at the expense of the accuracy of the census is not a cost worth paying, especially when the Government has failed to show why it could not bear the lesser cost of expending more resources to meet the deadline or continuing its prior efforts to seek an extension from Congress. This Court normally does not grant extraordinary relief on such a painfully disproportionate balance of harms.

There is separate litigation pending about whether the Census needs to count illegal aliens as part of the Census.


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