Trump Census Question Trial Is on Even With Government Shut

(Bloomberg) -- Despite the shutdown of the U.S. government, the Trump administration still faces a January trial over its addition of a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg on Wednesday rejected the Justice Department’s argument that it lacks taxpayer funding to stay on schedule for a non-jury trial set to begin Jan. 7 in San Francisco. The U.S. is making similar requests to halt a number of lawsuits nationwide, saying it only has enough money in its operating budget for “emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

The administration repeatedly tried and failed to derail a November trial in Manhattan over the controversial question it wants to put on the once-a-decade census: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” While that trial was under way, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in February on the administration’s bid to limit the evidence that can be used.

The case before Seeborg was brought by the state of California and cities including Los Angeles that claim adding the citizenship question violates the Constitution’s census clause, which requires representatives to be allocated to each state based on number of people in each state. The clause doesn’t mention citizenship but instead requires “counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed.”

California says the citizenship question would “disproportionately” affect its large Latino population and "will put California at risk of losing at least one congressional seat.”

Trump Census Question Trial Is on Even With Government Shut

In a different high-profile case, the U.S. won a reprieve Wednesday when it cited the government shutdown as a reason to slow down proceedings. Last week, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington deemed unlawful a deportation fast-tracking policy that allows immigration officials to generally reject asylum applications based on migrants’ claims of violence in their homelands including sexual abuse, kidnappings and beatings. Sullivan granted a request by the U.S. for an extension of its deadline to comply with his order.

The census case is California v. Ross, 18-cv-01865, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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