Court Battles

Judge rules Trump official can be deposed over census citizenship question

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A federal judge ruled Friday that the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division must sit for a deposition in a lawsuit challenging the administration’s decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.

Judge Jesse Furman, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, granted the challengers’ request to make John Gore answer questions under oath given his “apparent role in drafting” the Justice Department’s Dec. 12 letter requesting the citizenship question be added.

“His testimony is plainly ‘relevant’ within the broad definition of that term for purposes of discovery,” Furman said.


He added that “given Plaintiffs’ claim that AAG Gore ‘ghostwrote DOJ’s December 12, 2017 letter requesting addition of the citizenship question,’ the court concludes that AAG Gore possesses relevant information that cannot be obtained from another source.”

Furman said he was “unpersuaded” by the government’s arguments that forcing Gore to sit for the deposition would hinder him from performing his duties or unduly burden him or the DOJ.

New York and 16 other blue states filed a lawsuit in April challenging the constitutionality of the question, arguing it will lead to skewed numbers.

The New York Immigration Coalition, Casa De Maryland, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, ADC Research Institute and Make the Road New York also sued, and the cases were consolidated.

In July, Furman, an Obama appointee to the bench, denied a request from the Trump administration to dismiss the lawsuits.  

He said evidence in the case shows the administration departed from the “normal procedural sequence” in adding the question to the census, including overruling career staff who strongly objected.


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