ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Activists outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday called on the Supreme Court justices to rule against President Trump's administration's plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, a move opponents call a Republican effort to deter immigrants from taking part.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority appeared inclined to hand President Donald Trump a victory.
During arguments in the closely watched case, conservative justices rallied in defense of the administration's stated justification for using the citizenship question in the decennial population count, while their liberal counterparts remained skeptical.
The court has a 5-4 conservative majority.
Among the conservative justices indicating support toward the administration's stance were Trump's two appointees, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, as well as Chief Justice John Roberts, considered the court's pivotal vote.
Lower courts have blocked the question, ruling that the administration violated federal law and the U.S. Constitution in seeking to include it on the census form.
A ruling by the Supreme Court is due by the end of June.
Opponents have said inclusion of a citizenship question would cause a sizeable undercount by frightening immigrant households and Latinos from filling out the census forms, fearful that the information would be shared with law enforcement.
This would cost Democratic-leaning areas electoral representation in Congress and federal aid, benefiting Trump's fellow Republicans and Republican-leaning parts of the country, they said.
The census is used to allot seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and distribute some $800 billion in federal funds.
During extended arguments that lasted about 80 minutes, Roberts and other conservative justices appeared to embrace the administration's argument that the question would yield better data to enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects eligible voters from discrimination.