Trump administration asks Supreme Court to delay trial over census citizenship question

Trump administration asks Supreme Court to delay trial over census citizenship question
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The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to postpone the trial in lawsuits challenging its decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The government wants the trial to be postponed until the Supreme Court settles a dispute over whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossTrump administration announces deal to avert tariffs on Mexican tomatoes Huawei grappling with 'live or die moment,' founder says Ex-counterintelligence official warns Trump administration not to be shortsighted on Huawei MORE and another high-ranking administration officials can be forced to give sworn testimony under oath about how the decision to add the controversial question was made and who was involved.

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In a request filed Monday, Solicitor General Noel Francisco said “the real-world costs that proceeding to trial would impose on the government, especially one probing the mental processes of a Cabinet Secretary to determine whether he harbors secret racial animus, would unavoidably distract the government, including the Commerce Department, ‘from the energetic performance of its constitutional duties’ in a manner that warrants a stay.”

On Friday, Judge Jesse Furman, of the federal district court in Manhattan, denied the government’s request to delay the trial, which is slated to start Nov. 5. He said the government was seeking a preemptive ruling.

Last week, the Supreme Court blocked Furman’s order that allowed Ross to be deposed in the case, 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 questioned. 

Francisco said one would have expected the Supreme Court’s stay of Ross’s deposition and invitation for the government to seek review of the district court’s orders, allowing extra record discovery, would prompt the district court to postpone the scheduled trial and await further guidance.

“The district court instead has confirmed that, absent an expansion of the existing stay by this court, next week’s trial will move forward as planned — even as this Court considers whether such a trial is legally improper,” he said.

The trail stems from a lawsuit brought by 17 blue-leaning states and several cities against the administration. The case was consolidated with another challenge brought by immigrant rights groups.

The challengers argue that the citizenship question will scare people in immigrant communities away from responding, skewing the accuracy of the decennial population count. 

The government says the question is needed to better enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Census numbers are used to redraw House districts and divvy up federal funding among the states.