Supreme Court Rules Trump Can End Census Efforts Early

“I want to tell every American Indian and Alaska Native to be counted as an act of rebellion because this census is designed not to count you,” Natalie Landreth, advocate senior attorney for the Native American Rights Fund, previously said. The Supreme Court’s ruling may undermine those chances. “Everything is adding up to one of the most flawed censuses in history,” said Rob Santos, vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute and president-elect of the American Statistical Association. (

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday determined the Trump administration can end the 2020 census count earlier than the October 31st deadline — a move that could result in the undercounting of Indian Country and other minority groups. 

READ MORE: Census Deadline Extended to End of Month, Trump Still Seeks to Intervene

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented: “meeting the deadline at the expense of the accuracy of the census is not a cost worth paying.” 

But the Trump administration is now approved to suspend a prior lower court order that extended the deadline of the once-a-decade count to end of month. 

According to Justice Department attorneys, the U.S. Census Bureau is under pressure to meet a December 31st legal deadline for reporting census results to the president. 

State population counts will determine each state’s share of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. The numbers also affect how many Electoral College votes each state is given, thus impacting the presidency in 2024 and 2028.

The 2020 U.S. census results also help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities nationwide. The final census count determines the allocation of over $900 billion in annual federal spending for the next decade, including $5.6 billion for Tribal programs.

The high court’s ruling flies in the face of what bureau officials have said: that the pandemic impedes the agency’s ability to meet the December 31st deadline with accuracy. Even with the existing figures gathered (an inevitably incomplete count), “there is virtually no prospect that the Bureau will be able to comply with the statutory deadline,” the Justice Department told the Supreme Court. The bureau requires time to “analyze, correct, and integrate a vast array of data” to produce accurate results by the end of the year.”