In a pair of decisions with vast implications for the American political landscape, the Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a victory to Republicans by ruling that federal courts are powerless to hear challenges to extreme partisan gerrymandering but gave a reprieve to Democrats by delaying the ... administration’s efforts to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census.
The key parts of both decisions were decided by 5-to-4 votes.
In the gerrymandering case, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined his usual conservative allies. In the census case, he broke with them to vote with the court’s four-member liberal wing in preventing, for now, what advocates have argued would be a deterrent to immigrants from participating in the once-a-decade count.
Since 1950, the government has not included a question about citizenship in the forms sent to each household, but the administration was confident it would prevail before a court it views as generally sympathetic to its assertions of executive power.
But court rejected the administration’s stated reason for adding a question on citizenship to the census, leaving in doubt whether the question would appear on the forms sent to every household in the nation next year.
Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, said the administration’s explanation for adding the question “seems to have been contrived.” But he left open the possibility that it could provide an adequate answer.