Administration asks judge to delay trial on census citizenship question

Administration asks judge to delay trial on census citizenship question
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The Trump administration is asking federal District Court Judge Jesse Furman to postpone next month's trial in lawsuits challenging the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

The request comes two days after the Supreme Court blocked a deposition of Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossHillicon Valley: Commerce extends Huawei waiver | Senate Dems unveil privacy bill priorities | House funding measure extends surveillance program | Trump to tour Apple factory | GOP bill would restrict US data going to China Trump officials extend deadline to allow companies to work with Huawei Trump trade adviser pushes back on reports of US-China tariff deal MORE but refused to stop John Gore, the acting assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division, and other senior officials from being deposed.

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In a letter Wednesday, the DOJ asked Furman, an Obama appointee on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, to put the trial on hold until the Supreme Court considers whether to hear the government’s challenge to the extra discovery he permitted.

The challengers in the case, which include 17 blue-leaning states and a coalition of immigrant rights groups, want the testimony to understand how the decision to add the citizenship question was made and who was involved. 

They have argued in the two lawsuits, which have been combined, that the decision was unconstitutional and arbitrary, and will undermine the accuracy of the population count, which is used for proportioning House seats in Congress and distributing federal funds to the states. 

DOJ attorneys noted in their letter the separate opinion filed by Justice Neil Gorsuch, which Justice Clarence Thomas joined, concurring in part and dissenting in part from his colleague’s ruling.

Gorsuch said “one would expect that the court’s order today would prompt the district court to postpone the scheduled trial and await further guidance.”

But New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who is leading the states' challenge, said there is no reason for a delay. 

She argued the government could simply supplement the record from trial with the transcript of Ross’s deposition if the Supreme Court ultimately allows it to proceed.

The parties are due in court Wednesday afternoon for a status conference in the case.

The government said Gore’s deposition will be taken on Friday.