Supreme Court hears census case, will take up discrimination cases

Justices consider the legality of the Trump administration's proposal to ask citizenship status on the 2020 census, plus the court says it will hear three LGBT discrimination cases.
28:48 | 04/23/19

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Transcript for Supreme Court hears census case, will take up discrimination cases
And. Everybody happy Tuesday welcome to the briefing room a special edition live from the Supreme Court on Devin Dwyer with. Mary Alice parks a deputy political director a huge day here at the court one of the biggest cases the court will hear this year. On an issue that will affect our politics directly impact the lives of million Americans. For the next decade or more that's the 20/20 cents is the question on the table today was whether or not the census. Can't ask a question on citizenship and get an accurate headcount who will count. It was quite fiery and I must say in the courtroom I was in there today with Terry Moran. Our chief national correspondent and Supreme Court guru who joins us now come on interior. Thought you were in there who would you make any sort of arguments they were they were pretty colorful there were dramatic two are you a citizen. That that's the question that they that the trump administration wants to ask everyone of us and for a lot of people that's a hard question. And you could feel the stakes in their justice Sonia Sotomayor who several times interrupted rather sharply I'm sorry. She would say to the to the trump administration's lawyer do you not understand you know what the stakes are here but the question is. Is this lawful. And on that issue it looks to me I don't know about you like that like there's five votes to support the trump administration's position that this question. Can be asked and that's when it's when he senses even though it'll probably. Do press the number of people who reduced who answer the question. And is quite a conundrum for the government I mean there's a constitutional requirement that all people are included defense as. And yet we have is government report saying that if they go ahead and ask this question. An estimated six million people won't respond so is not the government admitting to this. It's an issue well they have admitted that day they say that it's worth it. Outlook congress gave the secretary of commerce which show or a Commerce Department oversees the census are a lot of power. To do the senses anywhere he or she wants to. Now there's a law called the administrative procedures act that limits every cabinet official what they can do. And they characters and this just arbitrary and capricious I think hedges does do something because they want to. And that was the question is what I was surprised that in in in the the arguments so. The drug administrations as we want to do this even though will harm the sense is we have a legitimate reason to help enforce the voting rights act which the Justice Department does. And yet there is evidence in the record that that's a lie. That in fact Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller over the White House cooked this idea up and made Wilbur Ross the commerce secretary put this in. But the court didn't really zero in on that it's almost as if as long as you've got some kind of excuse for doing this. This court. At least with this president will let you go and ingesting it motive could matter should match but it seems to indicate they decorate grapple with three lower federal courts Terry as you noticed. This down they sided with the challengers to the citizenship question. How will come back to some of those arguments and looked a little more closely what the justices were saying today but let's remind everybody what is at stake. Hot in the census would have a look here take a look at this list. So the census every ten years count how many people simply live in the United States they use that data such as some statistical exercise. These are to decide how many members of congress from each state each local. Can district are represented here washing of course elect tore all votes. Are based on the senses and all that federal money billions of federal dollars are distributed based on where people live in this country see see everything from. Money for roads college grants school lunch programs and liking and businesses. Take a look at the census in base their decisions are on where people are living where people. Are setting up shops and a lot is on the line we heard from some of the immigrant communities today who could be. Hardest hit are Erica king caught up with folks pro testing out here. Against the citizenship question toothless. We know that. Yeah Spain. When Iraq wants an inning. It's the basis. Or all of the season. The representation that we act house. Federal funds in the government's own analysis was. Six and half of the respondents. We're here today we believe that is what you think back any sort. Primarily just wanted have an accurate count. And having this question is really going to Kabul port across the country. Negroponte. Fiction. Joining us now is one of the leaders of the immigrant advocacy groups challenging. The trump administration's inclusion of citizenship question Jorge Vasquez is a lawyer with Latino justice joins us from New York also filed an amicus brief here. Asked the court on the issue or a great to see you so got to ask you a question that came up today in the courtroom Terry herded as well. Get to a lot of people including some of the conservative justices asked teens a citizenship question seems perfectly reasonable. Why not in fact the United States did it for a for many many years a lot of other countries do it the UN actually recommends that it's included on the census. So what in your view is so troublesome about asking people whether or not their citizens. There's a few different. One is not needed. So annually people get American community survey known as the AC RS and the ACS goals outs. Countless homes throughout the United States and it's a long form as the long form census and on that form individuals are acts of whether they are citizen. We know that the purpose of this that it those census is to get a complete count of all persons within this country. And all persons. Needs to feel comfortable with government and it's a feel comfortable. Answering to census for the reasons you highlight it earlier namely fears about 700 billion dollars that gets advocated annually. Our emergency responses depended on census data. Simple things you and I probably remember what it was like to have a cell phone in the late 90s32 thousands and coal is dropping. Because private businesses use census data to determine how many people are in a certain geographical block so something as simple. As whether or not our cell phone reception of B. Ask. Ask connected as it needs to be Swedish or we Google wallet our daily lives. Art things that are affected by the by the census and asked the Justice Department noted there's at least I wouldn't say six many I would say at least six million. Because what we know is that in the United States we have over a ten million mixed status households. And makes that is households are households in which there's at least one US citizen within the home. Many times it's a child sometimes it's one spouse and not the other. And what we know from different servers that have gone out is that these individuals in the mix that is households don't feel comfortable. S airing a citizenship question. Also. We know that. Questions for the senses get vetted and big get scrutinized. And their tested. And their tested again and this is year on year on year on here and for his citizenship question it's untested question. It's there. First time in nearly 65 years that we're going back to trying to acts whether someone is a citizen. And what that experts have said regarding. The implementation. Of this and the experts being this six former. Directors at the Census Bureau is that no this is gonna give us fourth seed David and that racists who great. I mean it affects oil. Ed Ed Ed and Terry. Its interest in Jorge brings up this to this point that it was suppressed it in the courts big time and again. The solicitor general the half the drug administration said every single additional question that's packed into the census will turn off. Some people they will choose may choose not to answer it's a he was making our room we already ask about sex gender of the have a TV used to be a question are you married. Those aren't. Called for in the constitution that they could certainly. Impact the participation they could but there's no evidence that they do yet it could be at some future time asking somebody about their gender might be off putting and would depress the count. What the argument was on behalf of the people don't want to trump administration to ask. This question we should emphasize. Very mean. It's not political correctness its social science it's demography it is the study how to get information out of the public it will harm that count. And there is very good evidence that asking the question are you a citizen. In many communities will give you a less accurate census and we need an accurate when the governor and I. Let me can beaten judging this case out of this moment in time we're talking about an immigrant community event under this administration. Has felt particularly under attack. Has felt vulnerable law and her message at that's just me we've seen how we've seen it anecdotally but also in some Dina and that's this administration. And this moment it is is coloring the judgment in this case. And the liberal justices certainly picked up on that part was perhaps is some interest in quotes today it was like an onslaught against solicitor general. I know Francisco take a look right out of the gate Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Says didn't the census verifying the put into question the short form would depress the count she said she put him on his heels. But then came justice Sonia Sotomayor who declared this is a 100%. That people will answer the last on that survey and justice Elena Kagan perhaps a button it up. Melissa simply said secretary of course can deviate from his experts recommendations and bottom line that he needs a reason to that I don't see a reason. Terry at the end of today Francisco said. Secretaries of a lot of discretion. It's about reasonableness and he is being reasonable here and your job is to look at how we the lawyers for the drug administration. Fit this move into the proper legal boxes your job is not to look behind those boxes and say what's really going on there was Steve bands Steve Miller to you is this legitimate. All you have to do it do we have. A good argument on the law and and that is it seemed to be persuasive to the conservatives in June Jordan Phelps joins us from the White House Jordan what's the White House saying about this case today. DeVon White House really knows that this fall is an in their court right now it's up that the Supreme Court where you are. Right now by DeVon what they're saying. Is that the president very much does want an accurate count but there into sizing like carrying you have been saying. That really eyes secretary Ross has the authority here and that's what they're into sizing eight in making the case that. The administration is on on sound ground right now when interesting contrast I might point out is right now you see this. Case the administration making the argument that. You know motives at whether motive matters are not in another case a legal battle they're making the exact opposite case. I've members of congress are trying to get access to the president's tax returns based on the fact that they have the authority the administration says that they have an ulterior motive. I think they're saying that got off Terry amount of matters. I in that case but in this case you see the administration. Saying that at the motive doesn't matter what matters is the authority. Jorge Vasquez before we let you go want to get your. Prediction on this and conservative majority on this court certainly flashed. Their colors today signaling perhaps they're inclined to overturn the lower courts hear what's what's your read on this as you look at these briefs and arguments. As a look at the briefs and arguments I I think the court is gonna come out and strike down the citizenship question I think it's Hollings who read just. Judge Furman of the southern district of New York's opinion it's 277. Pages but if he turned to about page 194195. He cites airy. He cites who decisions. Britain as as early ads or as late as 2018. When now justice Cavanaugh was on the DC Circuit Court. And he uses a strain of cases by justice cabin not where justice Kavanagh decides. Why it's arbitrary and capricious. What's a violation of the eight. And looking at. Prior decisions by justice Kavanagh asked so what violates their administrative procedure act. It's likely that I believe this court will come out and find that the citizenship question is a lawful. But I think it's important for viewers at home to know that. Whether the citizenship question stays on the senses or not and I hope that it does not. Because it deters individuals that we all have a duty here in the United States who ensure that our federal neighbors or properly fairly and accurately. Accounted for and the census. Thanks for coming on Jorge Velasquez with Latino justice our thanks to Jordan Phelps has while the White House Terry where we let you go you. Have a crystal ball and these sorts of things what's your what's your read on what we saw today. Well it does seem as if this is conservative majority is ready to defer. To the trump administration as long as they have a decent argument runs and eleven of the travel ban case right. Behind the travel ban case where these was statements that president trump had made as candidate. That many people found. Racially offensive or or did that demonstrated some kind of antagonism against him and against Muslims in particular. Once it got to the Supreme Court they had put it in those little boxes. And that the majority the court said that looks fine to us. And that is the story of trump administration actions in the court as long as you can dress it up. Their goal behind at the moment. We know we're talking here about conservative judges and liberal judges. In DC receives tied about politics the Wendy it's interesting to me in this case is that red and Blue States could be really impacted by an undercount. I saw some testament that said that one in ten. People living in Texas. Estimated to be a non citizens of Texas. Could have a huge drop in federal funding if there was a big undercount there. It impacts for their opinion by the energy and that's of course when they're going to be printing the census questionnaire form so coming soon Terry Moran thinks I forgot back Terry great to have you let us. Houghton or else it's not just the census that was to center stage this week at the Supreme Court. Employment discrimination was another big topic that popped yesterday up here at had been in the pipeline for awhile but the justices. Voted yesterday Mary Alice to take on three significant cases involving LG BT persons Americans who were fired. Because of their sexual orientation gender identity it's a big one. Yet the big moment with not only workplace. Ramifications but big cultural identity malignant thing for the country you know we have a lot of these conversations about weary are. Socially and so am I think you have it sends. On Capitol Hill even even which can be as erratic conservative place that we moved on offense from a lot of these questions and yet a federal level allies just not there some states have taken bigger steps towards eagle is in a nondiscrimination act in the space left the federal government has not yet so it'll be really interesting to see if the justice say that that congress needs to step up. There really big kiss a lot of people watch him from one is ought to bring any guest now here at the Supreme Court Sharon. I'm a gallon as the chief strategy officer and legal director of land illegal sir great to see if there are common in a leading. But advocate for LG BT persons or where it's group in this country so. Help us understand these cases these are these are pretty great big deal to involving. A gay individual someone evolving transgender Americans. That's right and and just to pick up on what you talked about the question that's actually before the Supreme Court is whether the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination a lot of this forty on the books. Actually protects people when they are discriminated against either for being drenched desert the meaning of sale is that the meaning of sex and in many ways it's also about the meaning of the cause of red that's the statue because of sex. An argument is that when I going to my employer and they are willing to hire me when they know that I'm married to a man but not willing to marry me if I'm married to a woman. That's because of sex right if I Ammon an employment. Place and I have transitioned and my employer wanted me when they thought that my history was one way but now the sun they found that that I had a gender transition. Nothing about me has changed other than your perception of my sex and so. Our view is that the federal law the we have. Authority provides this protection and an overwhelming number of courts have actually agree with that position there been some that have not and so that is the question right now that is teed up for. The supreme tell us about some of the characters in this case is some fascinating human stories here I think a lot of people might be surprised when the it actually takes place this explicitly. Say in the post dot case durable stock was was was fired at from village as a child welfare services coordinator in Georgia was explicitly told. We don't employ people like you. You hear that's right and we unfortunately still have places in the country where the discrimination is that explicit right we had Gerald fox sex case. We have Daniels artist case unfortunately Daniel asked aloud since I Donald Gardocki he passed away but in that case it was truly a function of him revealing that he had a boyfriend rather girlfriend and that resulted in losing his job. And then ended and peace and bombing the question of transgender coverage Amy Stevens served as a funeral director. But when her employer learn that that she was transitioning to live as the woman that she is. All of a sudden they no longer wanted or not positioned so we have really blatant cases of discrimination and many many courts have just understood. That this is precisely the kind of discrimination that federal law should already reach. And so you know once again we are hopeful that the Supreme Court we'll just look at the words on the statute and realize that because of sex meanwhile as it means what it says. And LG BT people who X discrimination because of their sex have protection under the law. Some states and. Already taken an extra step I'll have said that they want to be more explicit in state law because there's a concern that the federal life doesn't spell it out in didn't. In more blatant terms why is there that discrimination and and how common is that how many states have had taken us some extra steps so more than half of the states now. Actually had explicit protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and you're right in many ways it so to make a belts and suspenders approach at making sure that it is explicit. That employers know Ann Compton state and local laws actually capture employers that are smaller than the employers that would be covered by federal law. But in this case you part of what we're trying to make clear is that we do actually having national federal civil rights law. And it shouldn't matter whether you live in Indiana with a walk currently does cover you or in Missouri with a loss currently does not you know so we wanted to make sure that the Supreme Court. Understands you and this is really in many ways and very Miller Casey conservative argument we're not asking the court to change the meaning of anything. We're asking him to look at the words in the statute to understand that this happens to be factual scenario that applies as violence. And so the conservatives we expect during or oral arguments which will take place next year next fall sometime in October so we have a little bit of a way. What are the arguments I would expect will be paid if congress wants to protect people from discrimination of his sexual orientation right it into the law. Make it clear make it exposed there is actually an effort afoot right by house Democrats and others the equality act. To do just that. No that's right the quality act is currently pending the equality act is actually written in a way to make clear. That congress is intending tech clarify that sex discrimination protections actually cover this kind of discrimination as well. But you know the great late. Conservative of the justice Galena was the one who actually gave us a decision in the late 1990s saying. We aren't we're not considered intuit what congress may or may not admit we're gonna look at the words of the statute and the words of the statute actually cover the discrimination that appears in court. Then it's covered and so in many ways you know this is an argument that really should have appeal across the. Political spectrum Jeremy gallon with Lambda legal thank you so much for coming over Sharon great to see hope to have you back when those cases get hurt in the fall thing academy. Off finally today shifting gears a little bit. Out onto the campaign trail Mary Alice is a big night. With debates on the cable channels a number of democratic candidates unveiling a proposals to date they weren't might well they'll look like the very I yeah. Soft gloves. Elizabeth Warren is certainly drawing a lot of attention for her policy making prowess out there and yesterday she unveiled a new. So I opening plan a lot of people calling for free college tuition at public universities and also absolved mean. Billions of dollars and student debt from called students who have been carrying that around on their shoulders. It's an ambitious proposal Maer asked one that's generated a lot of us for campaign. That last part about forgiving. Student loan debt. Especially for so many Americans as described as described in her latest proposal I really has been headlines for the senator. You know she goes really far. And this isn't theme of her campaign to lay out very extensive. Policy positions big proposals that fill in the gaps she's not talking about me eighties and finish she is listing out exactly what she would do the kinds a lot of that she would. But up but there's does. Young people really are drawn to because we know that so many young people are just suddenly got kind of student loan that. Brown a Stewart is our ABC news political reporter covering the weren't getting she does is now. I'll live from New York we get a lot of reporting on this embryonic great to see you so to break it down for us what exactly what Elizabeth Warren's proposal to. To those thousands of students live with big student debt. I had DeVon OK for the biggest talker out there what her call to eliminate up to 50000. Dollars. A student loan debt this for. Americans making. Under a 100000 dollars or less people making between a 350000. Are also received some debt. And then those making above 250 would not receive debt that the going to affect. A significant portion of people who are affected. And saddled with debt about 42. Million people of course she will also be providing call for more providing for those students at eight to be used. Also with splitting the cost of education between student between the federal government and state. Arm and providing more money for pell grant will also affect low income students in and minorities. Really an ambitious proposal of course that one point 52 trillion dollar price tag. Is generating a lot of discussion Rihanna what you say about how she would pay for. Though this will be paid for by what she's calling the ultra millionaire's tax. The total to cancel acted and that it would cost about 640. Our billion dollars she plans to tax the America's wealthiest fifth of that people making. Fifty million dollars or more about 70000. That he 5000 families. Across America. That tax she said isn't gonna pay for. This proposal. And she's not dealing Democrat and his mom frank. Some positions like this but. She says hers goes a lot for America and even some at a progresses up there that are already running how does it stack up compared to other proposal he's in. Well there's been a lot of support for universal. For universal free college but this is one of you proposals and actually that I wanted have to cancel student loan debt. Really aggressively attacking that issue that's affecting. Says at least 42 million people. It's certainly a big deal struck down a little thanks Brett. Let's bring in James of all our president of the institute for college access and success a former Obama administration. Education policy advisor he also a friend of the briefing room and I'm before emergency James thanks for coming and so what can give us your top line reaction to Elizabeth Warren's proposal and also. Sort of the democratic field generally on this issue student. Well I think it's important to keep in mind that over the last couple of decades we've really seen a fundamental shift in how and we pay for college and instead of bride taxpayer support affordable public colleges. More and more of the costs of that has been shifted on to students we see many more students barring a near barring a lot more. So that's really. The scope of the ambition senator Warner's proposal she wants to. The reverse and generational shift in saying we all have a stake in pain for public higher education and we all want to produce more college graduates so it's really a landmark. Extremely ambitious proposal. Argument souls of Morton makes his of the federal government is actually making money off of all of this student loan debt explained that thaksin is that true. Well yeah. If you look at the budget documents though show that. Student loans. Break Evander even make a very small margin. For the federal government and that's obviously. Not the way it should be an upper Mississippi loans is not to generator revenue for taxpayers is to try and make college more affordable for people. And so that raises a question of are re really giving students fair terms on islam's and what point do to make college more affordable. One of the arguments has been that if you were to forgive. Student loans and make bad public colleges tuition free it would not hurt some private institutions and when it. Disproportionately. Impacts some students. Over others used to dozen other potential issue when indeed sort of unfairly applied to new students are new freshman and rolling. Well it is something that. You know that we're gonna have to talk about it and that I see that center Warren's plan includes. A very large increase in pell grants which are scholarships for low income students that attend. Private universities as well as public universities but there's no question that her proposal would make. Public higher education. More attractive relative to private universities. And that's something that we have enough fundamental change in our system prior to its. And shares of toilets ago I mean the impact. Is particularly felt the student debt mountain of student debt really and students of color. And that minority college campuses. Why is that an in how bad is it particularly for that demographically when. Well it's it's a really important point that you're making there is a study out of Columbia University last year that projected dad. 70%. Of black borrowers would eventually default on their student loans so there is a student loan crisis and mom. Black college students and I think you see now black students are more likely attend. Under resource institutions which have lower graduation rates. They have less Stanley wealth to fall back upon they face labor market discrimination. So for a whole host of reasons the challenge of trying to pay for college by asking students to bar heavily is really apparent when you look at on the challenges facing. Black students and certainly something to keep an eye on an up Rihanna Stewart is headed out to some. I historically back colleges and universities this week to do some reporting on just that James ball president. I think it's super college access and success think you Rihanna Stewart are Elizabeth Warren reporter thank you both. For that analysis could store will continue to follow as this campaign unfolds. Nancy I at a candidates have to respond those who hadn't been our own proposal that gonna keep getting asked about especially as we see the mobilization of younger voters this campaign we saw that Harvard University incident of politics poll out yesterday topping that list. This is a student finance and it's another big issue along with climate change are true. We talked about yesterday from the zoo. And coming falls or government today we start date like about the census and the census put out new information just today about the jump in young people voting. In those midterm elections. Jumped over 75%. Between 2014 and 2018 some meat and a young people are motivated and eager to get out they. Here from the white males and a couple of little millennial democratic candidates as well lot to follow good to have you with us here in the briefing room on this very busy Tuesday from the Supreme Court a special edition. I'll lot of news to cover a lot of it on abcnews.com. And on the ABC news apple can download that policy council watch us live there. All day everyday able will be back tomorrow at 3:30 eastern time in the briefing room for Mary Alice parks and Devin Dwyer hope to see event.

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