Judge says California lawsuit challenging census question can proceed

Judge says California lawsuit challenging census question can proceed
© Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Friday that California’s lawsuit against the Trump administration over the addition of a question on citizenship to the 2020 census can move forward.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ruled that California, in its lawsuit against Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossThe Hill's 12:30 Report: O'Rourke jumps into 2020 fray 'Marie Antoinette' activist attends House hearing to protest Trump Commerce chief The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Senate GOP clash over Yemen, border security MORE, made “a sufficient showing that the Secretary’s decision to add a citizenship [question] will undermine the ‘strong constitutional interest in accuracy’ of the census.”

Seeborg, an appointee of former President Obama, also found that Ross’s argument that he was given authority to make decisions on the census does not mean that his actions cannot be reviewed by the courts.

ADVERTISEMENT

The judge ruled that the state could conduct discovery for the case, meaning it could access records on how the citizenship question was added to the census.

California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraCalifornia Assembly Speaker pens fiery response to Pence Dems prepare next steps after Trump's veto Uber to pay million to settle fight over driver benefits, pay MORE (D) celebrated the ruling in a statement Friday.

"Tonight's ruling grants us discovery to understand the decision-making behind the Administration's effort to disrupt an accurate Census count and most importantly, for our case to fully move forward,” Becerra said. “Our communities in California depend on the Census to determine critical services for our schools, disaster relief, public health and safety and we're encouraged by today's decision."

The Hill has reached out to the Commerce Department for comment.

California was one of several states to take legal action against the Trump administration after the citizenship question was announced earlier this year.

Census data is used for several federal purposes, including determining congressional representation and funding.

Critics have argued that including the question in the 2020 decennial census will discourage undocumented immigrants from filling out the questionnaire, leading to an inaccurate count.

The Commerce and Justice departments, meanwhile, have maintained that the question is needed to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.

The citizenship query was last asked of all U.S. households in 1950.