Supreme Court shields Wilbur Ross from answering questions in census controversy

The unsigned order seemed like an attempt by the court to avoid a 5-to-4 split in its first politically significant action since the addition of new Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

While the court for now blocked the deposition of Ross — it is clear there was at least a majority for that — it allowed the states to depose acting assistant attorney general John Gore. There were noted dissents to the order only from Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, who said the distinction the court drew did not make sense.

“Respectfully, I would take the next logical step and simply stay all extra-record discovery pending our review,” Gorsuch wrote. “When it comes to the likelihood of success, there’s no reason to distinguish between Secretary Ross’s deposition and those of other senior executive officials.”