CHICAGO — The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of the Trump administration’s effort to move up the end of the 2020 Census, cutting the once-in-a-decade count short rather than continuing until the end of the month.
The order, with one dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, formally pauses the population count. After the ruling, the Census Bureau announced it would officially end at 5 a.m. Friday — two weeks earlier than a deadline set by the agency in April.
The last chance to fill out the census online is before the 5 a.m. Friday deadline. Phone responses are still being taken, according to a news release by the Census Bureau. For details, phone numbers and language options, click here.
Mail responses must be postmarked by Thursday.
Census participation helps determine federal funding for critical services including education, child care, workforce training and health care.
The case made its way up the courts after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross abruptly called a halt to field operations at the end of September instead of Oct. 31. In April, the Census bureau extended the deadline until the end of October because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Urban League, other civil rights groups and the cities of Chicago and Los Angeles sued the government, arguing the shortened timeline would likely produce inaccurate numbers of hard-to-count communities.
Justice Department attorneys argued the bureau was under pressure to meet a deadline of Dec. 31 for reporting to the president the first set of census results, according to NPR.
“Meeting the deadline at the expense of the accuracy of the census is not a cost worth paying,” Justice Sotomayor said in her dissent.
“The harms caused by rushing this year’s census count are irreparable. And respondents will suffer their lasting impact for at least the next 10 years,” Sotomayor said in her seven-page dissent.
The changing timelines have sent groups scrambling to get people counted.
Across the country, census counts are lagging behind as the new deadline approaches.
In 2010, nearly 66 percent of Chicagoans took part in the census. Currently, just 60.5 percent of Chicagoans have filled out the census, well below the city’s goal to reach 75 percent, according to the Sun-Times.
In some areas of Little Village and Back of the Yards, self response sits under 40 percent, according to the report.
The state risks losing $195 million per year for each 1 percent of the population undercounted.
Illinois could also lose two congressional seats to census-based redistricting.
The census can be filled out online or over the phone by calling 844-330-2020.
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