Judge Bars Citizenship Question From 2020 Census

January 15, 2019 - 3:22 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- A federal judge in New York has barred the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said Tuesday that while such a question would be constitutional, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had added it arbitrarily and not followed proper procedure.
The ruling came in a case in which a dozen states or big cities and immigrants' rights groups argued that adding the question might frighten immigrant households away from participating in the census.

"The citizenship question was developed in order to intentionally discriminate against certain protected classes including non-citizens and Hispanics. It was basically intentionall designed to intimidate and marginalize them from not participating in the census," said Perry Grossman, an attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union who argued on behalf of several New York-based immigrant rights groups. "Census data is what's used for aportioning political power, right? So we're talking about the number of congressional seats that each state receives. And then we're also talking about federal funding."

The Justice Department requested that the citizenship question be added in order to enforce protections against voting discrimination, but Furman ruled that the potential negative effects of the question were not studied, which is a violation of federal law, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

In a statement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "This decision is a triumphant victory for New York in our crusade against federal assaults on immigrants. With the Statue of Liberty raising her torch in our Harbor, we will never stop fighting for New Yorkers." 
The decision won't be the final word on the matter.
A separate suit on the same issue, filed by the state of California, is underway in San Francisco.
The U.S. Supreme Court is also poised to address the issue in February.

Grossman calls Tuesday's ruling an important first step.

"For the Supreme Court to reverse based on this very, very thorough record, this very, very thorough opinion would be quite a feat of judicial activism," Grossman said.

(© 2019 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report)