Administration Must Remove Census Citizenship Question, Judge Rules

The Trump administration is expected to appeal a federal judge’s decision against its plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The case is expected to make its way to the Supreme Court.


The Trump administration has been planning to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The question asks, is this person a citizen of the United States? But that effort has now hit a major roadblock because a federal judge in New York has ordered the question to be removed. Here’s the latest from NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla says the ruling is, quote, “a win for democracy.”

ALEX PADILLA: By no means is it over because there’s still a chance for appeal and, ultimately, Supreme Court action on this.

LO WANG: Padilla, a Democrat, says he’s also watching other citizenship question lawsuits, including one brought by his own state of California.

PADILLA: There’s billions of dollars at stake. So if you care about voting rights, then you ought to care about a fair and accurate census.

LO WANG: The 2020 headcount will determine how many congressional seats and electoral college votes each state gets for the next decade. The Trump administration has insisted it wants the citizenship question to help protect the voting rights of racial minorities. But the question’s critics worry it would ultimately lead to an undercount of noncitizens and some citizens afraid of answering that question.

CAROLYN MALONEY: Oh, I think it’s absolutely time for Congress to act.

LO WANG: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, tells NPR she’s planning to reintroduce a bill soon that would prohibit adding any census question that has not been tested for at least three years before the census. That would include the new citizenship question.

MALONEY: Questions are not added willy-nilly by anyone who wants to add them.

LO WANG: In the meantime, the Trump administration is expected to head back to court soon, and so is Thomas Saenz.

THOMAS SAENZ: Yes, we’ll be going to court and trial next week as scheduled.

LO WANG: Saenz is the president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing plaintiffs in one of the citizenship question lawsuits in Maryland.

SAENZ: We expect to present evidence that there was not only racial discrimination but a conspiracy within the government to discriminate against Latinos.

LO WANG: Saenz says if more plaintiffs win at the district courts, it could help ensure that higher courts can consider all of the reasons why critics of the citizenship question say it should be removed. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News, New York.