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Third Court Blocks Census Citizenship Question

By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 12, 2019 3:16 PM

Another court has ruled against the Trump administration's plan to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census.

The administration wants census-takers to ask: "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" That is a problem, say plaintiffs in cases around the country.

Two courts have already ruled against the administration on the issue. Check that; now there's three.

2020 Foresight

Judge George Hazel in Maryland is the third judge to rule the question is a violation of federal law. Judges in New York and California have reached similar conclusions.

"Based on the foregoing, the court will enter judgment for the plaintiffs, enjoining defendants from including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census," Hazel wrote.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wants to include the controversial question, but critics said it's an attempt to scare illegal immigrants out of the population count. And if they aren't counted, the census will be inaccurate.

That's not a small thing. President Trump says there are some 30 million illegal immigrants in the country. A discrepancy that large could change the statistical face of America, shift the balance at the ballot box, and reset government-funded programs.

Other judges have foreseen this, and called the census strategy "arbitrary and capricious."

Public Trust

Earlier this year, Judge Jesse Furman in New York said the question violated statutory law. The judge said the Secretary of Commerce violated the public trust, and ordered the question removed from the census.

Ross "alternately ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record" in a veritable "smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut APA violations," Furman wrote.

He said the citizenship question would dissuade people -- primarily Hispanic immigrants -- from participating in the census. Hundreds of thousands, "if not millions, of people will go uncounted in the census if the citizenship question is included," the judge said.

The U.S. Supreme is expected to weigh in on the issue on April 23.

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