When Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross instructed the Census Bureau earlier this year to include a question on the decennial census about the citizenship of residents, he offered a specific rationale. Having data on citizenship, he wrote, would allow the government to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, Civil-Rights-era legislation meant to protect voting from discriminatory policies.
In papers filed with the court, Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the justices that a panel of judges on the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong to uphold a district court ruling that allows the deposition to proceed.
The comment period gave any member of the public a chance to comment on aspects of the census which is a mandatory, once-a-decade count of the U.S. population that next occurs in April 2020.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced in March that a citizenship question would be included on the upcoming census.
Now a federal lawsuit seeking to block the question has cast doubt on the department’s explanation and the veracity of the man who offered it, Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. And it has given the plaintiffs in the suit — attorneys general for 17 states, the District of Columbia and a host of cities and counties — broad leeway to search for evidence that the critics are correct.
Southern District of New York Judge Jesse Furman also granted Underwood’s request for discovery, the statement said.
The Manhattan federal court lawsuit on behalf of immigrants’ rights groups blames racial animus for the recent announcement that the census will include a citizenship question for the first time since 1950.
The Justice Department is pushing for the 2020 census to include a citizenship question for the first time since 1950, a move civil rights groups say would “sabotage” the census and make immigrants afraid to respond. The Commerce Department, which oversees the census, has until March 31 to decide whether to approve the question, but President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has just come out strongly in favor—and it’s already using the issue to raise money and score political points.