The eight justices of the United States Supreme Court must let the counting for the 2020 Census continue until Oct. 31, refusing the Trump administration’s devious request that it stop immediately. If the justices are smart, and they are plenty smart, they will stay clear and let lower court rulings stand.
Trump and his Cabinet have practically turned meddling with the constitutionally mandated count into an art form. An ugly one.
First, the highest court rejected plans by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to unconstitutionally include a citizenship section on the questionnaire. Soon, they are poised to hear a separate appeal from Trumpites, an unconstitutional attempt to keep undocumented immigrants out of the apportionment of congressional seats.
The shenanigans over when to shut things down are more of the same. After Ross rightly pushed the normal July 31 end date to Oct. 31 due to the pandemic, he tried to back it up to Sept. 30.
Advocates sued to keep the Halloween date, and a California federal judge agreed. Ross then sneakily announced an Oct. 5 deadline, leading the judge to force the department to tell every Census employee: “As a result of court orders, the Oct. 5, 2020 target date is not operative, and data collection operations will continue through Oct. 31, 2020. Employees should continue to work diligently and enumerate as many people as possible. Contact your supervisor with any questions.”
The trial court ruling was sustained by a three-judge appeals panel. The Supremes should decline yet another hearing; there’s no dispute between courts.
This is basic but crucial stuff: All the people in the nation must be counted. There’s no harm to finishing the tally on Oct. 31, but there would be great harm to a rushed finish that misses millions and results in underrepresented, underfunded cities and states.
This editorial is the opinion of the New York Daily News Editorial Board.