Court Battles

Supreme Court blocks ruling that mandated Ross deposition on census citizenship question

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The Supreme Court on Monday blocked a lower court order requiring Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to sit for a deposition in lawsuits challenging the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The court granted Solicitor General Noel Francisco’s request to stay the Sept. 21 district court ruling, but denied the part of Francisco’s request that asked the court to block earlier rulings requiring testimony from John Gore, the acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

{mosads}The lower court rulings came from Judge Jesse Furman, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in two cases that have been consolidated challenging the citizenship question.

Challengers, which include a coalition of immigrant rights groups and 17 blue-leaning states, say they need the depositions to fully understand the basis for the additional question, which they argue will scare people in immigrant communities away from responding to the census.

But the government has argued Furman improperly allowed discovery beyond the administrative record to “probe the Secretary’s mental processes.”

The Supreme Court’s order gives the government until next Monday to file a petition for the justices to review its case.

Justice Neil Gorsuch filed an opinion, which Justice Clarence Thomas joined, concurring in part and dissenting in part from the court’s decision.

Gorsuch said he would have granted the government’s request and blocked all of the court rulings.

“When it comes to the likelihood of success, there’s no reason to distinguish between Secretary Ross’s deposition and those of other senior executive officials: each stems from the same doubtful bad faith ruling, and each seeks to explore his motives,” he wrote.

Earlier this month, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had originally agreed to put all of the rulings on hold.

Tags 2020 Census Census court ruling Lawsuit Supreme Court of the United States Wilbur Ross
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