US Appeals Court Blocks Trump from Shutting Down Census Count Early

October 1, 2020by Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times (TNS)
A view of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on June 12, 2017 in San Francisco, California. A federal appeals court decided Wednesday to let stand a preliminary injunction barring the Trump administration from shutting down the census count early. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/TNS)

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court decided Wednesday to let stand a preliminary injunction barring the Trump administration from shutting down the census count early in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that stopping the Census Bureau’s count now “risks undermining” its mission.

“Given the extraordinary importance of the census, it is imperative that the Bureau conduct the census in a manner that is most likely to produce a workable report in which the public can have confidence,” wrote Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson, a Clinton appointee, for the majority. Judge Morgan Christen, an Obama appointee, joined Rawlinson in the ruling.

The panel called the planned speedup “hasty and unexplained.”

The coronavirus outbreak severely disrupted the census count this year. The Census Bureau, which is part of the Department of Commerce, had to suspend field operations in March, and when they resumed it was unable to recruit enough temporary employees to work in the field.

Early on during the pandemic, there was widespread agreement that the count would have to be extended into next year. The legal deadline for getting the results to the president is Dec. 31. The Census Bureau asked Congress to extend the deadline to the end of April 2021. The House approved the extension. The Senate has not yet done so.

With no extension in place, the Trump administration argued that field operations had to end a month early to get the census to the president by the legal deadline.

The count is used for various federal decisions, including apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College.

In early August, a “senior Department (of Commerce) official” in the Trump administration changed course and ordered the bureau to complete its fieldwork and data collection by Sept. 30, the court said.

A group of civil rights groups and local governments challenged the speedup. A federal district judge last month blocked it, saying the Trump administration knew that suspending operations a month early would lead to an inaccurate count.

Judge Patrick J. Bumatay, a Trump appointee, dissented, arguing the lower court lacked the authority to issue an injunction.

“Nearly every American’s plans this year have been roiled by the virus,” Bumatay wrote. “But it cannot roil the law.”

He said courts were “not empowered to swoop in and rescue the elected branches from themselves.”

The Trump administration also wants to exclude immigrants without documentation from being included in the count that determines reapportionment. Trump issued a memorandum ordering the change in July, but a federal court in New York blocked it this month. Trump has appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 9th Circuit will continue to consider the government’s appeal of the district court’s decision. The government may appeal the panel’s decision within the 9th Circuit or ask the Supreme Court to intervene. A spokesperson for the Justice Department could not be immediately reached for comment.

The U.S. census, taken every 10 years, is mandated by the Constitution.

———

©2020 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Census

Census Bureau Says States Won’t See Data Needed for Redistricting Until Late September
Redistricting
Census Bureau Says States Won’t See Data Needed for Redistricting Until Late September
February 12, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - There's no question that the once-every-10-year process of redistricting is off to a slow start.  Though the U.S. Census Bureau ended its collection of data for the 2020 census on Oct. 15, 2020, it missed the December statutory deadline for the delivery of apportionment... Read More

Calendar Timing Means Virus Deaths Won't be Seen in Census
Census
Calendar Timing Means Virus Deaths Won't be Seen in Census

The human loss from the coronavirus will not be reflected in the 2020 census because of a matter of timing, which could save a congressional seat for New York but cost Alabama one. Because the start of the pandemic in the U.S. and the April 1... Read More

Litigants Take More Cooperative Approach in Census Lawsuit
Census
Litigants Take More Cooperative Approach in Census Lawsuit

Attorneys for a coalition of municipalities and advocacy groups that had sued the Trump administration over accuracy concerns about the 2020 census say they're hopeful about reaching an agreement with the new Biden administration as both sides take a more cooperative approach. Attorneys for the coalition... Read More

Census Estimates Show Population Decline in 16 States
State News
Census Estimates Show Population Decline in 16 States
January 22, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - New Census Bureau estimates show 16 states saw population declines last year as the nation experienced its slowest overall growth since the Great Depression, a new Pew Charitable Trusts analysis shows. According to the analysis, which first appeared on the Trusts' Stateline Daily, the... Read More

Census Bureau Director to Resign Amid Criticism Over Data
Census
Census Bureau Director to Resign Amid Criticism Over Data

Facing criticism that he was acceding to President Donald Trump's demand to produce citizenship information at the expense of data quality, U.S. Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham said Monday that he planned to resign with the change in presidential administrations. Dillingham said in a statement that... Read More

Attorney: Congressional Seat Data Not Ready Until February
Congress
Attorney: Congressional Seat Data Not Ready Until February

A Trump administration attorney said Monday that the numbers used for deciding how many congressional seats each state gets won’t be ready until February, putting in jeopardy an effort by President Donald Trump to exclude people in the country illegally from those figures. The U.S. Census... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top