The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump administration loses appeal to delay census citizenship trial

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An appeals court on Wednesday denied the Trump administration’s emergency request to delay a trial underway over a controversial citizenship question the government wants to add to the 2020 census.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York said it was denying the request for similar reasons to those laid out by a federal judge the day before.

The trial, which began November 5, is one of several challenging the government’s March decision to add the question. Administration officials said it was necessary to enforce the Voters Rights Act. But opponents see it as a partisan move that will depress response rates in Democrat-majority jurisdictions with a high portion of immigrants, who they say will be scared to complete the survey.

The government had sought to halt the trial while the Supreme Court considers whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross can be questioned over why he decided to add the question. But arguments over that question are not scheduled until February, and Judge Jesse M. Furman of Manhattan’s Southern District Court said yesterday that waiting that long would make it impossible to meet the June 2019 deadline for printing census forms.