Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg through Getty Images
The Trump government is asking the Supreme Court to delay the first trial on the controversial issue of citizenship that it added to the 2020 census.
The emergency request to the superior court comes less than a week before the trial begins on November 5 for the two main lawsuits in New York City. Last week, the lower courts rejected similar requests from the Department of Justice, which represents the administration.
After postponing the trial, the US District Judge. UU Jesse Furman wrote in his opinion, "I could make a timely final decision almost impossible." It would also increase the pressure that this legal battle has placed on the preparations for the recount of the law by constitutional mandate of each person living in the US. UU The Census Bureau has been waiting for a decision on the issue of citizenship to finalize the census form. The printing of the 2020 census forms is scheduled to begin in May.
But in the judicial presentations presented on Monday, Attorney General Noel Francisco argued that delaying the trial is necessary. The government wants the Supreme Court to review its new request to permanently block orders from lower courts that allow plaintiffs' attorneys to question Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Ross oversees the Census Bureau and approves adding the question. Last week, the high court temporarily suspended Ross's deposition.
The Department of Justice argues that these demands must be resolved based on internal documents initially published by the administration on the issue of citizenship. His attorneys want the Supreme Court to block earlier rulings that allowed the testimony of Justice Department official John Gore and the documents requested by the plaintiffs to be considered for final adjudication in these cases.
Gore, who sat down to interrogate under oath last week, has led the civil rights division of the Justice Department, which the administration says requires the issue of citizenship to better enforce the Voting Rights Act.
Francisco asked the Supreme Court for an "accelerated" consideration of the Trump administration's requests.
"All parties are interested in a quick resolution of this case," the attorney general wrote in one of the administration's court documents.
More than two dozen states and cities, as well as other groups, are suing the administration to suspend their plans to add the question. They have filed six lawsuits across the country. Potential trials for cases in California and Maryland could begin in January.
The question of whether citizenship is maintained or eliminated can have a lasting impact on the way political power is shared and federal funding in the US. UU An estimated $ 800 billion annually in taxes, between the states.
The issue of citizenship was added in March by Ross. The Commerce Secretary said the Department of Justice needs the question to better enforce the protections of the Voting Rights Act against discrimination of racial and linguistic minorities.
Before announcing his decision to add the citizenship question in March, Ross testified during the hearings in Congress that the Justice Department "initiated" the request for the question and that it "was not aware" of any discussion on adding the question between the White House and him. or your staff in the Department of Commerce.
Later, the administration filed documents before the federal courts reversing Ross' testimony. The internal memos, emails and other documents filed by the court as part of the lawsuits make it clear that Ross pressed to include the question in the census shortly after his confirmation as head of the Department of Commerce in February 2017. This month, Administration lawyers said Ross recently recalled that the then White House adviser, Steve Bannon, contacted him about the question in the spring of 2017. And earlier this year, Ross revealed in a note that his staff approached Justice Department staff to ask the Department of Justice to submit an application for a citizenship question. . That attempt, an internal memo revealed, was initially rejected.
The plaintiffs argue that Ross misused their discretion about the census and discriminated against immigrant communities of color by adding the question. They cite investigations from the Census Bureau that suggest asking about the US citizenship status. UU It could scare non-citizens to participate in the census and harm the accuracy of the information collected.
The plaintiffs also point out that Ross rejected the warnings against the question from the Census Bureau investigators, who urged the secretary of commerce to choose an alternative method to generate citizenship data that would produce more accurate information and cost less money.