Demonstrations outside the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday as inside, the conservative majority of justices appeared to side with the Trump administration over a hot-button issue: adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
Reuters correspondent Nick Brown: (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS LEGAL CORRESPONDENT NICK BROWN.
"The Census is a once-every-ten-year count of everybody in America and it's through that data we determine how many seats in Congress each state receives, and it's how the federal government decides how to allocate over $800 billion a year in federal funding.
And if you mess it up, you don't get another chance to redo it for ten years.
So the stakes are incredibly high." The White House says adding the question is needed for an accurate accounting, and to help protect citizens' voting rights.
Democrats challenged the move, saying that adding the question could frighten immigrants out of responding, skewing the count.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK DEMOCRATIC ATTORNEY GENERAL LETITIA JAMES, SAYING: TK TK TK Statisticians with the Census Bureau itself HAVE CONCLUDED THAT adding the question could depress responses.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS LEGAL CORRESPONDENT NICK BROWN.
"That data is seen as pretty good data within the statistical world.
But the conservative justices called it into question during the oral arguments.
 It's not seen as a particularly encouraging sign to the advocacy groups that the justices seem willing to at least consider that the Census Bureau's data may not be trustworthy." Among the Justices showing support toward the administration were Trump’s own appointees – Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, who pointed out that other countries have a citizenship question.
In the same camp: Chief Justice John Roberts, who’s considered the court’s pivotal vote.
The last time a citizenship question was on the U.S. Census was 1950.
A ruling by the Supreme Court is due by the end of June.