A federal judge in New York on Tuesday ruled against the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The question to be added was, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?”
U.S. households have not been asked such a question on the census since 1950. But, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said the decision to include such a citizenship question was “unlawful,” writing that “(Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross‘) decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census — even if it did not violate the Constitution itself — was unlawful for a multitude of independent reasons and must be set aside.”
“Most blatantly, Secretary Ross ignored, and violated, a statute that requires him, in circumstances like those here, to collect data through the acquisition and use of ‘administrative records’ instead of through ‘direct inquiries’ on a survey such as the census,” Furman wrote.
“Additionally, Secretary Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question was ‘arbitrary and capricious’ on its own terms: He failed to consider several important aspects of the problem; alternately ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record before him; acted irrationally both in light of that evidence and his own stated decisional criteria; and failed to justify significant departures from past policies and practices ― a veritable smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut APA violations,” he continued.
Democrats worried including the question would discourage immigrants from participating in the survey, thereby diluting representation for states that tend to vote Democratic and robbing many communities of federal dollars.
Alabama and the census
In May 2018, Alabama 5th District U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall have filed a lawsuit against the federal government over what they said was the Census Bureau‘s “unlawful” decision to include of illegal immigrants in census data “used to determine the apportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College.”
Marshall says the move will cause Alabama to lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as a vote in the Electoral College.
“If the U.S. Census Bureau follows through with its plan to include illegal aliens in the 2020 census for purposes of apportionment, Alabama will lose both a seat in the U.S. House of Representative and a vote in the Electoral College,” explained Marshall. “Alabama’s loss will be another state’s gain, as states with a growing illegal alien population will be the beneficiary of this reapportionment. I have joined with Congressman Mo Brooks in filing suit against the federal government to stop the inclusion of illegal aliens in the census’s apportionment population. The Constitution does not permit the dilution of our legal residents’ right to equal representation in this manner.”
The Trump administration is expected to appeal the ruling.