NY Judge: Trump Admin Acted In 'Bad Faith' By Adding Citizenship Question

Citing “bad faith,” a federal judge has ordered President Donald Trump’s administration to disclose additional information regarding its decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

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Judge Jesse Furman of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York announced on Tuesday that lawyers representing the government must produce a log of documents that were being withheld, as well as provide an explanation for why the administration did so. 

Furman further demanded that the government include documents from the Commerce and Justice Departments in their discovery.

In March, the Commerce Department announced it would reintroduce the citizenship question, which had been asked until 1960. 

The lawsuit was filed by Attorneys General in New York, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

Stating that the “Trump administration proposes to unlawfully expand purposefully narrow existing protections, without consideration of the consequences,” the AGs opposed the proposed rule, which “seeks to dramatically expand the ability of businesses and individuals to refuse to provide necessary health care on the basis of businesses' or employees’ “‘religious, moral, ethical, or other beliefs.”

According to a Washington Times report, Furman, an Obama appointee, said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross initially claimed that he added the question at the request of the Justice Department was undercut by his recent admission that he was thinking about it even before then.

Furman ordered the government to disclose all the information on its decision-making regarding the decision, and according to reports, he is unlikely to dismiss the lawsuit, despite the president and his administration’s protestations.

Following the judge’s decision, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood praised Furman, noting that she is leading a coalition of Attorney Generals that “filed a suit to protect a full and fair Census.”

“Today marked a major win in our lawsuit to protect the Census, with a federal judge ordering the Trump administration to provide vital information on how the decision to demand citizenship status was made, and what it may mean for New Yorkers and American’s across the country,” she said.

“The federal government has a solemn obligation to ensure a fair and accurate count of all people in this country. By demanding the citizenship status of each resident, the Trump administration is breaking with decades of policy and potentially causing a major undercount that would threaten billions in federal funds and New York’s fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College.”

In a letter to Ross that was posted on social media, more than 50 members of Commerce demanded answers after receiving “contradictory and misleading statements made by members of the Trump administration to Congress in regards to the process behind the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.”

“Given these glaring contradictions between administration testimonies and recently released internal communications, we ask that (Ross) respond to (several) questions for the purpose of clarifying the origination, intention and justification of adding a citizenship question to the census.” 

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