Federal Judge Blocks Trump Administration’s Efforts To Shorten Census Window

(JustPatriots.com)- The Trump administration can’t wind down its efforts to collect and process 2020 census data, a federal judge has ruled.

On Saturday, a temporary restraining order was issued by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh that prevents the federal government from shortening its census efforts, including “winding down or altering any Census field operations.”

Advocacy and civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, saying its plans regarding the census would impact census data accuracy and potential inflict harm on particular communities, both of which are illegal. Every 10 years, the census is updated in a process that in part determines levels of federal funding that is given to both local and state governments.

A court will hear a separate motion for a stay and preliminary injunction on September 17. The restraining order will remain in effect until that time.

One of the groups that filed the lawsuit is the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. In a statement, its president, Kristen Clarke, said:

“The court rightfully recognized the Trump administration’s attempted short-circuiting of our nation’s census as an imminent threat to the completion of a fair and accurate process. President Trump and Secretary Ross’ decisions to undermine the process may have deprived vulnerable communities of fair representation and fair allocation of funds for the next 10 years or more.”

The Trump administration’s plan was to cut collection efforts for the census short. An order signed by President Donald Trump would’ve reduced the time period in half — to four months from the typical eight months. The Census Bureau would’ve stopped counting on September 30 under the plan, which was roughly 30 days before the original end date.

These efforts were done as a result of constraints that have been caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit in question was filed, claiming that the irreparable harm that would have been caused by this is in direct relation to federal funding that could be lost for certain communities. Judge Koh said this harm was “potentially” irreparable in her decision, especially since the next census data collection won’t happen for another 10 years.

Census data can also alter congressional representation in Washington, D.C. While each state gets two representatives on the Senate, the number of representatives in the House are determined by population.

When the Trump administration revealed their plan for the shortened time period, other government officials were concerned. In August, the Government Accountability Office released a report saying the proposed shortened time period could significantly increase the chance that the count would be inaccurate.

While no official measures had been taken by the Census Bureau or the Commerce Department as of yet, things were in the works for both to take “immediate steps” to comply with Trump’s order.

Over the weekend, officials in the Census Bureau emailed guidance to both area and regional census offices about the president’s new order. It promised that additional guidance would be given to them in the near future.