Judge refuses to pick sides in Census dispute, schedules trial

A federal judge in California on Friday denied a request from the Trump administration to side with Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossHillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei Judge signs order permanently blocking citizenship question from 2020 census Lawmakers introduce bill to block U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei MORE in lawsuits challenging the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, sending the case to trial.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg, an Obama appointee serving in the Northern District of California, denied the government’s request for summary judgment in two related cases brought by the state of California and the city of San Jose.

The judge also denied a request from San Jose arguing that the Trump administration violated a procedure when it obtained data involving other agencies.

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San Jose argued the administration violated a provision of the Census Act that requires the secretary to rely on administrative records, rather than direct inquiries, “to the maximum extent possible” when collecting supplemental data on behalf of other agencies.

In a subsequent order, Seeborg scheduled the trial to begin on Jan. 7, 2019 and run through Jan. 15, 2019. 

Ross argued in March when announcing that he was adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census that the move was meant to better help the Department of Justice enforce the Voting Rights Act.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a discovery dispute in February that stems from a separate challenge to the citizenship question in a federal district court in Manhattan. In that case the justices will weigh whether Ross can be questioned under oath.