A federal judge has asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to confirm that it has given up its fight to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. U.S. District Court Judge George J. Hazel in Maryland says the Commerce Department has until Monday, July 8 to respond.
The judge’s order was issued Tuesday, July 2 and comes days after Trump administration officials reportedly dropped plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census form, a turnaround after days of defiant statements following last week’s Supreme Court decision to halt the query. On Wednesday, Trump contradicted his own officials vowing to still include the question, as reported by CNN.com.
In his request for a joint stipulation between the plaintiffs of La Union Del Pueblo Entero et al. v. Ross et al., Hazel is seeking a written commitment to conduct Census 2020 without a citizenship question. Such a commitment would be a clear win for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), who brought the lawsuit on behalf of individual and organizational plaintiffs to challenge the addition of the citizenship question on the basis of racial animus and violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, among other claims.
“This afternoon, at a telephonic hearing in our challenge to the late-proposed citizenship question for Census 2020, the federal government indicated that it would be moving forward with Census 2020 without the citizenship question,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel, on Tuesday. “This represents an important victory for the Constitution and the nation. The removal of the question increases the opportunity to ensure that the Census count is as complete as possible, so that our legislative bodies and our distribution of federal funding over the next decade reflects accurately the nation’s total population.”
Added Saenz, “This victory comes just as MALDEF was prepared to prove, using newly-discovered as well as long-public evidence, that the motivation for adding the citizenship question was to discriminate intentionally against the growing Latino community.”
Saenz claims that several Trump administration officials lied in their pursuit to include the citizenship question in the Census. MALDEF will make sure that the Trump administration complies with the judge’s order.
“Firmly convinced that the lies from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other Trump administration officials would be exposed in court and lead to a permanent removal of the citizenship query from Census 2020 as a violation of basic equal protection principles of the Constitution,” said Saenz, “MALDEF will now act to ensure that today’s decision by the federal government is thorough and complete before voluntarily abandoning our racial intent case. He adds that “consistent with this goal, we will be working to reach an agreement with the federal government about its final decision to conduct Census 2020 without a citizenship question.”
NAIL IN THE COFFIN
AAJC has also issued a statement regarding the Maryland district court judge’s action. “Finally, the question is off the 2020 Census,” said John C. Yang, AAJC president and executive director. “But the pattern of lies and deceit from this administration requires confirmation on the record that the fight is over. We need this final nail in the coffin of the citizenship question.’ He added, “We’ve always fought for and will continue to work toward a fair and accurate 2020 Census where we count every person in America.”