The Supreme Court on Friday set a hearing for Tuesday, April 23, on the controversy over the Trump Administration’s plan to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. By placing that case in a 10 a.m. slot and by not having an argument in the 11 a.m. slot, the Justices gave themselves the option of a lengthier exploration of the controversy than the usual one hour might have allowed.
The Court already had filled all of the morning slots it had available for the April sitting when it decided a week ago to rush the census case onto its calendar for decision this term That required it to rearrange the April hearing calendar to make room. (The Court in modern times has preferred to hold most of its hearings in the morning sessions.)
In Friday’s order, it set the census case to start at 1o a.m. on April 23. While it is tentatively set for an hour, the available second hour will permit the Court to delve more deeply into the question that could have a major impact on how accurate the total population count will be for the 2020 census. A citizenship question has not been a part of the regular census questionnaire for 69 years, and challengers contended that adding it in 2020 will discourage responses from households where undocumented immigrants are living. The census is supposed to count everyone, whether citizen or not, and whether legally in the country or not.
In devoting the morning to the census case, the Court moved to an unusual afternoon session — starting at 1 p.m. –the two cases it had previously planned to hear earlier that day. One of those hours will be used to hear a case from Wisconsin on whether it is unconstitutional for a state to allow police who do not have a search warrant to take a blood sample from an unconscious person, to gain evidence for a potential drunk-driving prosecution. The other afternoon hour will have the Justices considering a federal criminal case testing when an undocumented immigrant living illegally in the U.S. can be prosecuted for having a gun.