The Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to allow the Trump administration to shut down the census count early, doubtlessly affecting minority communities.
“Meeting the deadline at the expense of the accuracy of the census is not a cost worth paying,” Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted in her dissenting argument.
President Donald Trump had long sought to end the count early, but a lower court ruling prohibited two attempts by the administration to stop the count in September and again on Oct. 5.
Administration officials have argued they wanted to stop the count to determine the number of House seats and electoral votes each state would receive for the next 10 years.
Trump had expressed a strong desire to have those issues determined now in case he loses the election.
Census results are used to draw electoral boundaries at each level of government.
Significantly, dozens of critical social services, education and infrastructure programs depend on census-guided federal grants that provide trillions of dollars to communities, making participation vital.
“The harms caused by rushing this year’s census count are irreparable,” Sotomayor wrote. “And respondents will suffer their lasting impact for at least the next ten years.”
The high court’s decision stops a lower court’s action that would have allowed the count to continue through the end of the month.
As of Oct. 1, the Census Bureau estimated about 98 million households — or 66 percent — had self-reported.
Bureau officials declared that enumerators reached millions more. According to the census, approximately 95.8 percent of U.S. households had been counted as of October 1, leaving around 14 million homes left. Reportedly, many of those who remain unaccounted for live in hard-to-reach areas with little to no access to the internet.
“The Supreme Court has just allowed the Trump administration to stop counting people for the U.S. Census before the October 31 deadline. This is wrong,” tweeted Keith Boykin, an author, Harvard graduate and political commentator. “This is why the Supreme Court matters. This is why elections matter.”