A federal judge in New York on Tuesday signed an order permanently blocking the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, days after President Trump gave up on his efforts to get such a question on next year’s census.
The order, signed by Judge Jesse Furman, was jointly drafted by the parties opposing the citizenship question.
It stops administration officials “from including a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census questionnaire; from delaying the process of printing the 2020 decennial census questionnaire after June 30, 2019 for the purpose of including a citizenship question; and from asking persons about citizenship status on the 2020 census questionnaire or otherwise asking a citizenship question as part of the 2020 decennial census.”
The order also states that Furman, an Obama appointee, will be able to enforce the order “until the 2020 census results are processed and sent to the President by December 31, 2020.”
The parties in the case, including the state of New York and the American Civil Liberties Union, told Furman in a letter filed earlier Tuesday that they had written the proposed order and that the Justice Department “does not oppose” the judge signing it.
The letter points to an executive order issued by Trump last week that directs federal agencies to provide records relating to citizenship to the Commerce Department, after determining there was “no practical mechanism for including the [citizenship] question on the 2020 decennial census.”
Furman had initially ruled against the question’s inclusion on the 2020 census, an order upheld by the Supreme Court last month.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in last month’s 5-4 decision that the reason for the question’s inclusion — enforcing the Voting Rights Act — was “contrived” and blocked it from appearing on the census for the time being, unless officials provided a rationale in line with the evidence in the case.
Trump initially signaled after the justices’ ruling that he would push forward with the attempt to get the question included on the 2020 census, setting off further legal efforts in Furman’s court and in another Maryland lawsuit challenging the question over an alleged discriminatory intent.
But the president last week conceded defeat over the citizenship question, instead signing the executive order on collecting citizenship information through other means — the original recommendation made by the Census Bureau.
A similar proposed order is expected to be filed in the Maryland citizenship question case, one of the lawyers involved told The Hill last week.
Opponents of the citizenship question have argued that including it on the census would lead to an undercount of minority groups, particularly Hispanics and immigrants, and an overall inaccurate count of the U.S. population.
Disputes over the question aren’t over quite yet: The House is set to vote this week on a resolution to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas relating to the citizenship question.
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