Another federal judge has ruled against the Trump Administration's attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in the Northern District of California issued a decision enjoining the Census Bureau from having a question about citizenship on the decennial headcount next year.
This court decision provides further weight behind removing the insufficiently-tested citizenship question (that was likely to reduce response rates and thus accuracy in immigrant communities -- both legal and illegal -- and in some native American communities) from the 2020 Census questionnaire.
Oral arguments at the Supreme Court for the appeal of the New York lawsuit, wherein a judge also ruled against the citizenship question, are on April 23. A decision is expected by June.
As in the New York case, the judge in the California decision highlighted the Commerce Department's search for cover on adding the citizenship question: "Nearly a year before issuing that decision, on May 2, 2017, Secretary Ross sent an email to Deputy Chief of Staff Earl Comstock stating in part 'I am mystified why nothing [has] been done in response to my months old request that we include the citizenship question. Why not?' What ensued was a cynical search to find some reason, any reason, or an agency request to justify that preordained result." He asserted that the Commerce Secretary's search was "an effort to concoct a rationale bearing no plausible relation to the real reason, whatever that may be, underlying the decision."
Judge Seeborg echoed the concerns from the New York case about process violations (of the Administrative Procedures Act), and the Insights Association concerns about potential impact from the question being on the 2020 Census, but expanded to include violations of the Constituion's Enumeration Clause.
Seebord concluded the decision by saying:
"The record in this case has clearly established that including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census is fundamentally counterproductive to the goal of obtaining accurate citizenship data about the public. This question is, however, quite effective at depressing self-response rates among immigrants and noncitizens, and poses a significant risk of districting the apportionment of Congressional representation among the states. In short, the inclusion of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census threatens the very foundation of our democratic system - and does so based on a self-defeating rationale. In light of these findings, Defendents do not get another bite at the apple. Defendents are hereby enjoined from including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census, regardless of any technical compliance with the APA."
The case is State of California v. Ross, 3:18-cv-1865-RS, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).