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Judge denies government's request to delay trial on census citizenship question

Judge denies government's request to delay trial on census citizenship question
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A federal district court judge on Friday denied the Trump administration’s request to postpone a trial addressing lawsuits that challenge the government's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. 

The government asked Judge Jesse Furman, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, to put the trial slated to start next month on hold until the Supreme Court considers whether to hear the government’s challenge to Furman’s ruling allowing the challengers to depose Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOn The Money: Amazon taps New York, Northern Virginia for new offices | What it means for the DC area | Dems target vulnerable commerce chief | Earmarks look to be making a comeback Trump eyes post-midterm shakeup The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Congress returns to leadership races, lame-duck drama MORE and other administration officials.

Furman said it might be good under other circumstances to wait for further guidance from the Supreme Court, but added that “time is of the essence” in this case.

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“At bottom, defendants are seeking a preemptive ruling from the Supreme Court on a decision that this Court has not yet even made — namely, what evidence the Court may consider in ruling on the merits — thereby seeking to disrupt the appropriate relationship between the respective courts,” he said.

“Making matters worse, Defendants have not yet even formally asked the Court to make a decision on that issue.” 

The Supreme Court this week blocked Ross’s deposition, but refused to stop John Gore, the acting assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and other senior officials from being deposed.

The orders came in two cases that have been consolidated into one trial brought by 17 blue-leaning states and a coalition of immigrant rights groups regarding the addition of a citizenship question on the decennial census.

The challengers are seeking the depositions to understand how the decision to add the citizenship question was made and who was involved. They argue the question is unconstitutional and arbitrary.

Furman said the government may have its day before the Supreme Court, but that day should not come before the district court decides the case on the merits.