WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court is forbidding President Donald Trump's administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census for now.
The court says the Trump administration's explanation for wanting to add the question was "more of a distraction" than an explanation.
It's unclear whether the administration would have time to provide a fuller account. Census forms are supposed to be printed beginning next week.
The court ruled 5-4 on Thursday, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the four liberals in the relevant part of the outcome.
A lower court found the administration violated federal law in the way it tried to add a question broadly asking about citizenship for the first time since 1950.
The Census Bureau's own experts have predicted that millions of Hispanics and immigrants would go uncounted if the census asked everyone if he or she is an American citizen.
Impact in Illinois
Griselda Vega Samuel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, along with other civil rights groups, have been fighting the citizenship question.
"It’s a victory. We’re gonna take it. We’ve been fighting against this administration day in and day out," Vega Samuel said.
Vega Samuel said they feared immigrant communities would opt not to fill out their census form, leading to a massive under-count.
"The census is of critical importance to make sure we count every single person, particularly in the state of Illinois because we have a lot to lose. One potential congressional seat, likely two and billions of dollars in resources," Vega Samuel.
It’s still possible the Trump administration could come up with a new rationale for adding the question, but there’s another lawsuit open arguing the census question is discriminatory.
"I’ll give you the reason why it doesn’t make sense. So Samoans, they’re U.S. nationals but they’re not U.S. citizens, and if you look at the questions they proposed, they don’t fit any of those boxes so that entire community is going to be left out," said Vega Samuel.