Political News

Judge extends order blocking the Census Bureau from ending count early

Posted September 17, 2020 5:54 p.m. EDT

— A federal judge on Thursday extended into next week an order blocking the Census Bureau from winding down its efforts to count the US population.

The order was set to expire Thursday, but Judge Lucy Koh extended it after pushing back a hearing as well.

The Trump administration is seeking to end the 2020 census at the end of September. A coalition of groups and local governments, led by the National Urban League who are challenging the plan, want a preliminary injunction or other order allowing counting to continue through October 31, the cutoff date the administration publicized for several months until abruptly changing course in August.

Koh said the administration violated her directive to produce thousands of pages of internal records last weekend explaining the decision.

After the government produced only about a quarter of the records that were due last weekend, and redacted most of the pages, Koh ordered the government to hand a set of about 15,000 pages over to her court by Friday.

She said this week she has enlisted a team of magistrate judges who will review the records over the weekend to determine if any should be kept confidential. The administration says it believes the documents include several categories of privileged information that should not be released publicly, such as communications with the White House.

Depending on how long the review and appeals process takes, the re-scheduled oral arguments for Tuesday could be in jeopardy.

The extended temporary restraining order lasts through September 24, or expires if she rules earlier on the preliminary injunction request.

A separate analysis by a statistical group released Thursday found that truncating the 2020 census timeline may be significant enough to change who receives seats in Congress.

The research from the American Statistical Association indicates "significant consequences to an early cessation of data collection operations," and says the data will be less accurate.

Mathematical modeling finds California, Ohio or Idaho could gain seats at the expense of Florida and Montana, the analysis said.

It concluded that "apportionment and federal funding determined by decennial census data would better reflect the U.S. population if the deadline were extended."

Nationwide, 66% of households have responded to the survey, and Census Bureau employees have either counted or stopped visiting another 27 percent of households.

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