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Third Federal Judge Strikes Down Citizenship Question on US Census

U.S. Department of Commerce.

U.S. Department of Commerce.

A third federal judge has struck down the Trump administration's citizenship question on the U.S. Census, finding it “arbitrary and capricious,” in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.

Friday’s ruling by District Judge George Hazel in Maryland follows similar rulings out of California and New York. All three rulings found Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross decided to add the question despite evidence provided by Census Bureau officials that it would likely significantly depress the response rates in noncitizen and Latino communities.

The census question issue has already been teed up for argument at the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices are set to hear oral arguments during the second week of April in the government’s appeal of the New York ruling. U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco had asked the court to hear the case on an expedited basis, due to a June 30 deadline for finalizing the census questionnaire for printing.

Judge Jesse Furman of the Southern District of New York first struck down the census question in January. U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California followed in March.

While the New York case focused just on the APA claims, both the Maryland and California cases found the government violated the U.S. Constitution’s Enumeration Clause.

Hazel wrote Friday, "Because the secretary ignored evidence regarding the impact of the question and provided no legitimate rationale to support it, the addition of the citizenship question would unreasonably compromise the distributive accuracy of the census, and the addition violates the Enumeration Clause.”

Read the decision:

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