Not even the census is safe from the Trump administration’s political machinations, apparently. Federal Judge Lucy Koh has now ordered the Trump administration to continue the census count through the end of October. She had previously struck down a planned deadline of September 30, which left a former deadline of October 31 in place — but then the Trump administration announced plans to end the census count on October 5. On Thursday, Judge Koh said that the Trump administration’s actions violated her recent injunction in the case in “several ways,” and she demanded a mass text to every census worker by this Friday informing them of the court-ordered October 31 deadline.
Breaking: Federal judge directs Trump admin *not* to end 2020 census counting on Monday, ordering it to continue until Oct 31
Judge Lucy Koh called Commerce Sec Ross’ directive an “egregious violation” of her order & faulted admin with “chaotic, dilatory & incomplete compliance”
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) October 2, 2020
Koh wrote, referring to members of the Trump administration:
‘Defendants’ dissemination of erroneous information; lurching from one hasty, unexplained plan to the next; and unlawful sacrifices of completeness and accuracy of the 2020 Census are upending the status quo, violating the Injunction Order, and undermining the credibility of the Census Bureau and the 2020 Census. This must stop.’
Koh added that the October 5 deadline “risks further undermining trust in the Bureau and its partners, sowing more confusion, and depressing Census participation.”
Census results could have political significance. The numbers are used to reapportion Congressional and state legislative representation, and they’re also used as a factor in deciding where to place public investment. If communities are under-counted because of rushing to end operations almost a month before they’re supposed to, then down the road, they could lose access to crucial public funding and they could lose the numbers of legislative representatives that would be consistent with their actual population numbers. It’s marginalized communities who might be most likely to be under-counted.
Besides the mass text to every census worker, Koh “also ordered Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham to file with the court a declaration by the start of next week confirming his agency was following a preliminary injunction she had issued last week,” the Associated Press reports. Melissa Sherry, who is one of the attorneys on the side of those who’ve challenged the Trump administration’s census handling, said:
‘An unrushed, full and fair count is paramount to ensuring the accuracy of the 2020 Census. This ruling brings us one step closer to realizing that important goal.’
The shifting deadlines are not the first strike that the Trump administration has taken at the fairness of the census. Originally, they also wanted to include an arbitrary question about citizenship in the census, which could have discouraged participation in immigrant communities. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Trump administration’s plans.