Washington, D.C. — After months of litigation and unnecessary delay by the government, U.S. District Court Judge George J. Hazel in Maryland issued an order Tuesday permanently blocking the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
The two-page order, which effectively marks a formal close to the legal fight over the query, also prohibits the Commerce Department from delaying the printing of the census questionnaires and “otherwise asking a citizenship question as part of the 2020 decennial Census.” The court will retain jurisdiction in case subsequent events require further court intervention.
“Our 16-month battle to keep the citizenship question off the 2020 Census has ended,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “With so many lies and outright attempts to deceive the court by the Trump administration and other government officials, we needed this iron-clad proof and order from the federal court. Now, the government cannot backtrack and all of our communities can feel more confident when answering the 2020 Census.”
“This is a gratifying day,” said Niyati Shah, Assistant Director of Legal Advocacy at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “We are glad to move on toward ensuring that Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities are counted properly, can get the representation and resources they deserve, and that their confidentiality is protected.”
Advancing Justice | AAJC (Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC) and MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) in LUPE et al. v. Ross et al., had challenged the Commerce Department’s addition of a citizenship question in Maryland District Court based on the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Enumeration Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the 5th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, and conspiracy claims.
Judge Hazel had previously ruled that the addition of a citizenship question violated the APA and the Enumeration Clause, but denied the plaintiffs’ 5th Amendment and conspiracy claims. As part of an appeal of the denial of the 5th Amendment claim, the groups presented evidence showing that members of the Trump administration conspired with others to intentionally discriminate against Latinos, Asian Americans, and non-citizens.