A federal judge has ruled that the Trump administration can’t ask a controversial question on the 2020 Census.
The New York judge’s ruling means that plans to ask if a person is a citizen of the United States on the 2020 Census will have to be abandoned for now.
Last year, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced plans to bring back the question to the U.S. census. 1950 was the last year that the census asked the question: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” Since the announcement, more than 24 cities and states have filed lawsuits against the administration.
On January 15th, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman decided that including a question about citizenship was a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. This act requires that federal agencies consider “all important aspects of a problem” before enacting a new regulation.
In his ruling, Judge Furman said, “In arriving at a decision as he did, Secretary Ross violated the law. And doing so with respect to the census, one of the most critical constitutional functions our Federal Government performs and a mainstay of our democracy, Secretary Ross violated the public trust.”
Research conducted by the Census Bureau revealed that including the question could cause an inaccurate headcount because noncitizens living in U.S. households would be unable to participate in light of President Donald Trump’s charged rhetoric about immigration. The lawsuit alleges that including the question discriminates against immigrants of color.
The decision is expected to be appealed in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, and might even make it all the way to the Supreme Court, which now has a conservative majority. Two other trials over the question will be taking place in California and Maryland later in January.
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