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Third federal judge rules against Trump administration’s census citizenship question

April 5, 2019 GMT

A third federal judge struck down the Trump administration’s plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census as unconstitutional.

District Judge George Hazel ruled Friday the question would infringe on the survey’s accuracy and violated the Administrative Procedure Act for the way the Trump administration added it to the census.

But the Obama-appointed judge for the District of Maryland did not agree with the plaintiffs’ notion that the question was also a civil rights violation, adding they failed “to show that the addition of the citizenship question was motivated by invidious racial discrimination.”

This adds another hurdle to putting the question on the census as Mr. Hazel’s motion prevents the administration from adding the inquiry regardless of whether it finds a way to introduce it and meet the Administrative Procedure Act.

Former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the ruling proves the citizenship questions “plainly and clearly violates the Constitution and relevant administrative law.”

“On review, this should not be a hard decision for the Supreme Court the addition of the citizenship question is clearly unconstitutional and would seriously harm the accuracy of the count,” Mr. Holder said in a statement.

“A bad census would cause decade-long damage to our democracy by denying voters their right to equitable political representation and cause some communities to miss out on more than $800 billion per year in federal funding for education, health care, and infrastructure that is distributed based on this data,” he added.

Mr. Hazel becomes the third judge to rule the question violates administrative law and the second to declare it as unconstitutional, with California and New York judges ruling similarly.

The fate of the question will be decided when argued in the Supreme Court on April 23rd with an announcement expected in June on whether it will be included on the official headcount.