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Trump plan for census citizenship question poised for trial

December 15, 2018
President Donald Trump listens to a question from a reporter during a meeting with newly elected governors in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, in Washington. From left, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker, D-Ill., Governor-elect Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and Trump. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump listens to a question from a reporter during a meeting with newly elected governors in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, in Washington. From left, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker, D-Ill., Governor-elect Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and Trump. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California’s lawsuit against a Trump administration plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. census moved closer to trial after a U.S. judge refused to throw out the challenge Friday.

The state had presented enough evidence to support its authority to challenge the plan, and there was a “material dispute of fact” over whether the question would affect the final population count, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg said. He also said he could not immediately resolve other claims in the lawsuit.

A trial is scheduled to start in January.

The Trump administration has said the U.S. Department of Justice requested a citizenship question to help enforce laws on voting rights. But documents show U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had requested the question months earlier.

All households were last asked about citizenship in the 1950 census.

California says the question would discourage immigrants from participating, resulting in an undercount that would cost the state federal funding.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department did not immediately have comment. The department had asked the judge to decide the case in its favor before trial.

A trial in a separate lawsuit over the citizenship question in federal court in New York ended last month and a ruling is expected soon.

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