Third judge blocks citizenship question from 2020 census

A third federal judge ruled Friday against the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

U.S. District Judge George Hazel in Maryland wrote that Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossFight over census citizenship question hits Supreme Court House chairman threatens to find Justice official in contempt of Congress DOJ rejects Oversight subpoena unless agency lawyer is permitted to attend MORE's decision to add the question to the census was arbitrary and capricious, therefore violating federal law.

Hazel also ruled that adding the question could negatively impact the government’s ability to accurately count the number of U.S. residents. That’s in line with critics’ arguments that undocumented immigrants might be deterred from participating in the census if the citizenship question is included, leading to an inaccurate count.

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Federal funding is determined by census data, meaning an undercount in some states could lead to less funding and possibly affect congressional representation.

Hazel wrote that “there is a substantial risk that the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census will lead to a differential undercount of Hispanics and/or noncitizens.”

The Trump administration has faced a series of legal challenges to the citizenship question since it was announced last year.

Two other judges have ruled against adding the question to the decennial survey.

Administration officials have argued that the question is necessary for the Justice Department to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments about the citizenship question later this month, in a lawsuit brought by several states, led by New York, against the Commerce Department.