On January 22, United States Solicitor General Noel Francisco filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision made by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The district court ruled on January 15 that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by including a question regarding citizenship status in the 2020 census.
In most cases, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit would review the district court decision first, but Francisco argued that time constraints meant that the U.S. Supreme Court should review the district court decision directly. Francisco asked the court to grant a writ of certiorari before judgment, which would allow the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case without waiting for the 2nd Circuit. Francisco argued that his petition would allow enough time to resolve the citizenship question dispute before the June 2019 deadline to print the 2020 Census questionnaire.
Francisco also argued that the court should grant his petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment because the case presents an important question of federal law that ought to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. He argued that the case is a matter of national importance with massive and lasting consequences. According to SCOTUSblog, the U.S. Supreme Court has only granted such petitions in a handful of cases over the past 75 years.