Supreme Court issues major rulings on last day
The Supreme Court decided on some high-profile cases Thursday.
Here's what you need to know:
- Partisan gerrymandering: The court ruled that it should be up to the states to address the issue of partisan gerrymandering, not federal judges. The court was asked to consider when politicians go too far in drawing lines for partisan gain in a set of cases arising from North Carolina and Maryland. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion and sided with the 5-4 conservative majority.
- 2020 census: The court blocked the addition of a citizenship question on the census, for now. In Chief Justice Robert's opinion, he said that there was sufficient reason for concern about why the Department of Commerce wanted to add the question, and insufficient explanation.
- What now: As the case goes back to lower courts, new questions are raised about whether the Trump Administration will have enough time or the ability to get the citizenship question back on the census for 2020.
President Trump took to Twitter saying it "seems totally ridiculous" that a question about citizenship was blocked from appearing on the census.
This comes after the Supreme Court ruled that there was sufficient reason for concern about why the Department of Commerce wanted to add the question, and insufficient explanation.
Trump said in the tweet that he's asked lawyers if they could delay the census.
He continued, "Can anyone really believe that as a great Country, we are not able to ask whether or not someone is a Citizen. Only in America!"
Several Democratic presidential candidates weighed in on Thursday afternoon following the SCOTUS decision to block the citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census for now:
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren called the court's decision "a welcome relief."
- Former Vice President Joe Biden said the citizenship question is "wrong and goes against our core values as a nation."
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the ruling a “key victory,” but added the “battle is not over.”
- Sen. Cory Booker tweeted he's "pleased with today's ruling, but we need to continue to fight these not-so-subtle moves when we see them."
Read their reactions:
Statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio:
“The Supreme Court’s decision to send the citizenship question back to the lower court is a key victory in our fight, but the battle is not over. Cities across the country have stood together and made clear: if you live in the United States, regardless of immigration status, you are seen, you are heard and you must be counted. We must continue to resoundingly reject the politics of division and hate and fight for the fair representation this nation was built on. The President’s hateful administration won’t silence our voice. We must all stand up and be counted.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who has led an investigation into how a question about citizenship ended up on the U.S. Census, told reporters he was so happy that the court ruled the way it did today. He said he plans to continue his investigation.
“I think this is showing that our courts are doing what our courts are supposed to do. It is probably one of the most important decisions of my tenure in politics,” Cummings said.
“I am relieved because I just felt like the question didn’t belong there,” Cummings said. “This was apparently an effort by Mr. Ross even before he got into office … one of the first things he did was to start working on this citizenship question even though he claimed the request was coming from DOJ.”
He said his committee will continue to work on its investigation.
“We are going to do everything in our power to get the documents that we need. The President and the administration have to stop stonewalling us and blocking us,” Cummings said.
In a reaction to today's decision, Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF, plaintiffs in the census case, said in a statement that SCOTUS "effectively ruled." He added that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross "lied to Congress and the public about the reasons he chose to add an unwarranted citizenship question to Census 2020."
Saenz said Ross "now must try, in very short order, to fix his mess."
Read Saenz's full statement:
“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied to Congress and the public about the reasons he chose to add an unwarranted citizenship question to Census 2020, and he now must try, in very short order, to fix his mess. This ruling vindicates the legal victory in MALDEF’s case in Maryland on the issue of pretext under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). It is far from clear that Ross, accomplished prevaricator that he is, can put forward a legitimate explanation for his biased actions.
“At the same time, todays’ Supreme Court decision permits our live, ongoing claim — that the Trump administration intentionally discriminated against the Latino community in violation of the Constitution — to move forward to prevent the citizenship question from staying on Census 2020. We will be immediately pursuing that claim in Maryland federal District Court and in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, confident that the increasingly clear picture of conspired racial discrimination will prevail in removing any doubt about the impropriety of the late-added citizenship query.”
Justice Stephen Breyer, joined in part by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, agreed that the Commerce Secretary provided a “pretextual reason” for adding the question. But they would have gone further. They wrote separately to say the decision violated a federal law, the Administrative Procedure Act that regulates how agencies establish their rules.
He wrote that asking the question “risked undermining public confidence in the integrity of our democratic system itself.”
Justice Thomas joined in part by Gorsuch and Kavanaugh would have allowed the citizenship question on the census.
Here's what he wrote in his dissenting opinion:
“For the first time ever, the Court invalidates an agency action solely because it questions the sincerity of the agency’s otherwise adequate rationale. Echoing the din of suspicion and distrust that seems to typify modern discourse, the Court declares the Secretary’s memorandum “pretextual” because, “viewing the evidence as a whole,” his explanation that including a citizenship question on the census would help enforce the Voting Rights Act (VRA) “seems to have been contrived.”