Lincoln County — Following an emergency ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau halted data collection Thursday for the U.S. Census 2020. That means Lincoln County residents and those throughout the country no longer have a chance to participate in the 10-year U.S. count mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
Census data collection completion was initially scheduled for July. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Census Bureau extended that deadline to Oct. 31. That according to the agency, allowed more time to count but was still enough time to produce a final count by April of next year.
However, in July, the White House requested census data before the end of the year, recommending that data collection cease non-response follow-up interviews in order to speed data processing and stop the count at the end of this month.
Several California-based entities, including and cities of San Jose, Los Angeles and Salinas and the National Urban League, sued to block the early data collection deadline. The group was initially granted a temporary injunction to halt the Trump Administration’s directive to stop data collection early by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided in favor of the White House, and pushed the deadline for data collection to Thursday, even as attempts to block the deadline are heard in lower courts. The Supreme Court ruling all but ends any chance of data collection past this week, regardless of lower court decisions on the matter.
Data collected from the census is used to determine the number of representatives states are allotted in Congress and how an estimated $1.5 trillion in federal funding is distributed nationwide for schools, infrastructure improvements and more.
According to the Census Bureau, more than 99.9 percent of residences in the country have been accounted for. Critics, such as the group that sued to block the early deadline, say that by implementing an early deadline, the White House is using its influence to steer data for political gain.
They allege traditionally difficult populations to count — such as minorities and indigenous peoples — are in jeopardy of not being fairly represented, in part due to the early data collection deadline.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor was against the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this week, noting that “the harms associated with an inaccurate census are avoidable and intolerable.”