The 2020 U.S. Census will likely be remembered as the most controversial count in history, as litigation over census end dates has been ceaseless over the past month.

The U.S. Census Bureau lost 47 days of field operations between March 18 and May 4 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the bureau announced in April that it would extend field operations through Oct 31.

The bureau also asked Congress to delay its deadline – from Dec. 31 to next April 30 – for the statutorily mandated report of population data used for congressional reapportionment and redistricting. The House of Representatives passed such a bill, and a Senate committee held a hearing in July to do so as well.

In August, however, the bureau abruptly changed course, stating that field operations would end on Sept. 30 so that its report could be delivered by Dec. 31. In response, numerous advocacy organizations, local governments, counties and Native tribes filed lawsuits.

The move by the Census Bureau came after President Donald Trump announced his intention to exclude undocumeted immigrants from the population base for reapportionment. The latest change in dates would ensure that the Trump administration would control the reapportionment data, regardless of who wins the Nov. 3 presidential election.

On Sept. 24, a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Census Bureau from implementing an end date of Sept. 30, and on Oct. 7 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stayed the lower court’s ruling pending the administration’s appeal.

On Oct. 13, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that preliminary injunction, allowing the count to stop while appeals are being argued and decided in the Ninth Circuit.

In an Oct. 13 press release, the Census Bureau announced that self-response and field data collection operations for the 2020 Census would end on Oct. 16 at 6 a.m., and that more than 99.9% of housing units had been accounted for. (The bureau’s 99.9% claim is being contested in a lawsuit, however, asserting that census takers were pressured to falsify data, lower standards and prematurely close cases.)

In an interview with Politico, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said the Supreme Court decision to stop the census count early “is going to shortchange Massachusetts.”

“Allowing the Trump administration to stop the count now will leave those residents uncounted for the next 10 years,” he said, adding that the phrase “stop the count” is “a chilling one.”

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in New York v. Trump on Nov. 30.

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