POLITICS

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Talks Census Case, Suggests 5-4 Supreme Court Rulings To Come

The justice indicated that multiple close decisions could be handed down in June.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested on Friday that the high court would soon be announcing several close rulings.

In prepared remarks delivered at the Second Circuit Judicial Conference, Ginsburg discussed several prominent cases argued this term in which decisions have yet to be released, including one on the hotly contested 2020 census.

The census case revolves around the Trump administration’s effort to add a question on the 2020 form asking every American household to identify the citizens and non-citizens among them. The administration has argued it needs to ask the question in order to compile better data to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act. 

But a Manhattan federal judge in January blocked officials from adding the question to the survey, ruling that the process by which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross added it violated the Administrative Procedure Act. Challengers to the citizenship question, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Common Cause, also argue that it would discriminate against Latino households by driving an undercount of that community.

At oral argument, the high court appeared to be largely split along ideological lines, with more conservative justices suggesting that a citizenship question on the census is not unreasonable and liberal justices noting that Ross failed to articulate the rationale for the query.

In discussing the census case on Friday, Ginsburg referenced a 2018 decision, Trump v. Hawaii, in which the high court ruled 5-4 along ideological lines to uphold the Trump administration’s “travel ban.” That opinion, the justice said, granted “great deference to the Executive.”

She continued: “Respondents in the census case have argued that a ruling in Secretary Ross’s favor would stretch deference beyond the breaking point.”

Ginsburg noted that the high court has yet to announce its rulings in 27 cases, all of which will likely be coming out this month.

Among the other closely watched cases will be the court’s ruling on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering, a practice by which lawmakers set boundaries for electoral districts to ensure their party’s candidates win more races.

The Supreme Court will also be ruling in Flowers v. Mississippi, a case detailed in the popular “In The Dark” podcast. In that case, the justices will decide whether Mississippi’s highest court properly applied a Supreme Court precedent in determining whether people were unconstitutionally kept off a jury on the basis of race.

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