Citizenship Question Blocked by Federal Judge
A federal judge ordered a citizenship question to be removed from the 2020 census but the case will likely be appealed.
In the latest installment of a never-ending saga concerning the US 2020 census, a federal judge has blocked the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the census.
Judge Jesse Furman ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross “ignored, cherry-picked or badly misconstrued evidence” when he decided to add the question to the census.
A lawsuit over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census was brought by a coalition of states who alleged that adding the question would intimidate immigrants and lead to an undercount which would dilute the political power of left-leaning states.
Plaintiffs provided evidence that the government’s own census experts cautioned against adding the question and warned that it would lead to an inaccurate count, a point that resonated with Judge Furman.
“He failed to consider several important aspects of the problem; alternately ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record before him; acted irrationally both in light of that evidence and his own stated decisional criteria; and failed to justify significant departures from past policies and practices,” Furman wrote in his ruling.
“Those violations are no mere trifles. The fair and orderly administration of the census is one of the Secretary of Commerce’s most important duties, as it is critical that the public have ‘confidence in the integrity of the process.’”
“Secretary Ross violated the public trust,” the judge added.
The ruling is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court and possibly fast-tracked as the 2020 census forms go to print in June of 2019.
Over the course of the trial, Judge Furman grew increasingly frustrated with the federal government as it tried 14 times to delay the trial. The trial was finally head over eight days in November.
One revelation from the trial was that Ross consulted both former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach. Kobach is notorious for his widespread efforts to remove people across the country from voter rolls. Ross had previously testified before Congress in March of 2018 and stated that he had not consulted anyone about adding the citizenship question to the census.
Kelly Laco, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, gave the following response to the ruling:
“We are disappointed and are still reviewing the ruling. Secretary Ross, the only person with legal authority over the census, reasonably decided to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 census in response to the Department of Justice’s request for better citizenship data, to protect voters against racial discrimination,” she said.
“Our government is legally entitled to include a citizenship question on the census and people in the United States have a legal obligation to answer. Reinstating the citizenship question ultimately protects the right to vote and helps ensure free and fair elections for all Americans,” Laco added.