The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the U.S. Census Bureau can conclude its 2020 count on October 31, which will give it enough time to finish with enough time to process the data before year end. The decision, favored by the Trump administration, came with a dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor wrote in her dissent, “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.”
The U.S. Census Bureau is overseen by Trump appointee Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The bureau announced in an August 3 press release that it would be ending its count by September 30 — a month before it originally planned. The Trump administration argued it needed to end then to crunch the data before the congressionally-mandated deadline of December 31, 2020. In-person data collection was forced to pause in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary suspension prompted the Census Bureau to initially request an extension for the count.