Federal judge permanently blocks citizenship question from census

Court continuing to monitor through release date

By Jessica Schneider, CNN
Copyright 2019 CNN

The Supreme Court ponders whether a citizenship question should be included on the 2020 census form.

(CNN) - A New York federal judge has issued an order definitively blocking the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census in any form, despite the administration's insistence it has abandoned plans to add a question on the census.

Judge Jesse Furman, in his two-page order, also indicated the seriousness with which the court will continue to monitor this controversial issue, saying,"The Court will retain jurisdiction in this case to enforce the terms of this Order until the 2020 census results are processed and sent to the President by December 31, 2020."

President Donald Trump announced last week that he will seek citizenship information from agencies that already collect the data following the following the Supreme Court's decision in June that kept a lower court's order to block a citizenship question from the census in place.

Trump repeatedly said he would continue fighting to insert the question despite the court's ruling before ultimately issuing an executive order last week directing the Commerce Department to obtain citizenship data through means other than the census instead of attempting to put the question on census forms, or adding it separately. The order covers the Department of Homeland Security, which houses citizenship and asylum services, and the Social Security Administration.

In the Supreme Court case, the Trump administration claimed the citizenship question on the census questionnaire is necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law. Civil rights groups argued it was an attempt to intimidate noncitizens and Hispanic households and would lead to a decline in response rates and under-representation of minorities.

Changes to the census could impact the balance of power in states and the House of Representatives, which are based on total population. Census data is used for the allocation of congressional seats and the distribution of billions of federal dollars to states and localities over the next decade.

Administration lawyers notified the courts last week that the effort to add a census question would be dropped.

CNN's Caroline Kelly, Kevin Liptak, Pamela Brown, Jim Acosta, Kaitlan Collins, Ariane de Vogue, and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.

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