WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court will allow a trial on the decision to add a citizenship question to the census form beginning in 2020, despite the objection of President Donald Trump's government.
The magistrates issued a brief ruling on Friday that rejects the government's request to postpone the trial, scheduled to begin Monday in New York.
More than a dozen states and cities, among others, filed lawsuits against the decision of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to add a citizenship question to the census form for the first time since 1950.
The lawsuits allege that Ross acted inappropriately and that the question will discourage immigrant participation, which will undermine political representation and federal resources for states that tend to vote for Democrats. The government assures that the question will allow the Department of Justice to apply the Voting Rights Law more effectively.
Last week, magistrates blocked a request to question Ross before the trial, but allowed other preparations to proceed.
Federal Judge Jesse M. Furman said the evidence offered suggests that Ross may have decided to add the question before asking the Justice Department to request it. He also mentioned as evidence that Ross dismissed the conclusion of high-ranking Census Bureau staff that incorporating the question would be very costly and would undermine the census count.
"The most significant thing is that the court found reason to believe that Secretary Ross gave false explanations about his reasons for, and about the genesis of, the citizenship question," Furman said.
Last month, in a Justice Department document filed in court, Ross said he now recalled that he had talked last year with former White House aide Steve Bannon about adding the citizenship question to the census. He also recalled having discussed the matter with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the spring of 2017, and on other occasions, lawyers from the Department of Justice wrote in the document.
Ross had testified before under oath that he had no knowledge that he had discussed the issue with anyone in the White House.
Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, proposed to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump, voted in favor of postponing the trial. The decision of the magistrate Bret Kavanaugh, also named by Trump, was not clear in the ruling, but the votes of two more magistrates would have been needed to prevent the trial.