When you don’t truly believe that all the people count, it only makes sense not to count all the people.

How else can one explain the White House’s efforts to screw up the decennial census, which received the blessing of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, when justices said the administration could move ahead with its plan to halt the count early.

When the White House recently announced that this year’s enumeration of the people was 99.9% complete, the figure seemed, well, too good to be true. After all, the Commerce Department had tried to wrap up the census early, despite reports of widespread problems. In particular, it seemed that specific groups were routinely being undercounted – minorities, young people and the poor. Think it’s merely a coincidence that folks in those groups aren’t generally wild about President Donald Trump?

The first census in the newly established United States, mandated by the Constitution, was conducted in 1790. The idea, seemingly so simple, was actually quite radical: In a nation where the people are the ultimate authority, with the power of those in the federal bureaucracy obtained only by the consent of the governed, it is imperative to have an accurate count of the people, and to know where they live. We’ve done this every 10 years since, trying always to count everyone. Until now.

Because Trump felt that undocumented immigrants shouldn’t be counted. And while that notion didn’t initially pass muster in the federal courts, Tuesday’s emergency ruling from the Supremes effectively hands Trump the win he wanted. Sadly.

This is no way to run our nation’s 24th census, which should be as free from political interference as can be. And if we get it badly wrong this time around, there won’t be an opportunity to fix it until 2030.

The census, of course, is used to determine the apportionment of the 435 representatives in the House. Each state gets one to start with, and then the rest are divvied up by population, in an effort to see that congressional districts are more or less the same size. But that’s only one aspect of the count. Vast amounts of federal funds are also handed out based on population figures. As a result, this year’s undercount will deprive already-underserved communities even further.

Showing that in the eyes of this administration, they simply don’t count.

The Republican of Springfield, Massachusetts