A federal judge in Manhattan ruled Tuesday that the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census was unlawful.
In his ruling, Judge Jesse Furman, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add the question to the census was “arbitrary and capricious” and enjoined the administration from including it on the questionnaire.
Furman, an Obama appointee, said Ross violated a statute that requires him to collect data through the acquisition and use of “administrative records” instead of through “direct inquiries” on a survey such as the census.
Ross announced in March that he was granting a request from the Justice Department to reinstate the citizenship question on the decennial population count to help the agency better enforce the Voting Rights Act.
The decision led to a flurry of lawsuits across the country.
In his 277-page ruling, Furman called Ross’s violations of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) “egregious.”
“He failed to consider several important aspects of the problem; alternately ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record before him; acted irrationally both in light of that evidence and his own stated decisional criteria; and failed to justify significant departures from past policies and practices — a veritable smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut APA violations,” he wrote.
Furman said he was unable to find that Ross’s decision to add the question was a pretext for impermissible discrimination, as the challengers had argued. The judge said that was due, in part, to the Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily block a court order…