A federal judge has put a halt to the Trump administration’s plans to expedite the 2020 census.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh issued a temporary restraining order on Saturday stopping a Trump administration effort to complete the census a month early, The Hill reported.
Judge orders halt
The Census Bureau moved its counting deadline from July to October for the decennial census, citing the coronavirus pandemic, but then adopted a revised plan to finish by the end of September after the GOP-led Senate refused to extend the deadline for delivering apportionment numbers, Fox News reported. According to CBS News, the new plan would make it possible to deliver those numbers to President Trump in a lame-duck session before Dec. 31, as originally planned.
In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that by not allowing the bureau to push back its deadline until spring, the Trump administration was trying to deliberately rush the census and produce an inaccurate count that would be unfair to members of minority communities, as well as illegal immigrants. The census impacts how federal funds are distributed and how congressional seats are apportioned, The Hill noted.
In her order, Judge Koh said that the Trump administration’s current plan could cause “irreparable harm” to the rights of the plaintiffs and called for a halt on plans to wind down the Census Bureau’s counting and processing operations until a hearing on Sept. 17, according to The Hill.
“Because the decennial census is at issue here, an inaccurate count would not be remedied for another decade, which would affect the distribution of federal and state funding, the deployment of services and the allocation of local resources for a decade,” the judge wrote.
The plaintiffs include National Urban League, League of Women Voters, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Los Angeles, Chicago, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Navajo Nation.
Trump admin to comply
The census has proven a controversial topic in the Trump era. The president tried and failed last year to ensure that illegal immigrants were not counted.
One of the civil rights groups that filed the new suit hailed the judge’s order, calling it a victory against Trump’s latest attempt at “short-circuiting” a complete count.
“The court rightfully recognized the Trump administration’s attempted short-circuiting of our nation’s census as an imminent threat to the completion of a fair and accurate process,” Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said, according to The Hill.
She went on: “President Trump and Secretary Ross’ decisions to undermine the process may have deprived vulnerable communities of fair representation and fair allocation of funds for the next 10 years or more.”
The Census Bureau and Commerce Department have said they are taking “immediate steps” to comply with the order, CBS News reports.