Donald Trump and his administration are on a real roll this week—a loser's roll that is. On the heels of a ruling against Trump on the Emoluments Clause, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross may have violated the constitutional rights of plaintiffs in choosing to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 Census that hasn't been used since 1950. TPM's Tierney Sneed writes:
[U.S. District Judge Jesse] Furman said that the challengers “plausibly allege that Secretary Ross’s decision to reinstate the citizenship question on the 2020 census was motivated by discriminatory animus and that its application will result in a discriminatory effect. ”
The judge also said Trump may have been "personally involved" in the decision, citing a Trump re-election campaign email asserting that Trump "officially mandated" the question.
Challengers will now move forward with their argument that Ross's decision violated their right to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment and the Administrative Procedure Act.
Documents released earlier this week show Ross was not forthcoming in his testimony to Congress about his considerable role in adding the question. Ross told the House Ways and Means Committee in March that the question was added at the behest of the Justice Department, but his request for adding the question in a May 2, 2017, letter to the Commerce Department’s Office of Policy and Strategic Planning predate the Justice Department's involvement.
Comstock responded the same day, promising to “get that in place” and adding, “We need to work with Justice to get them to request that citizenship be added back as a census question, and we have the court cases to illustrate that DoJ has a legitimate need for the question to be included.”
Career Census Bureau officials overwhelmingly objected to adding the citizenship question, arguing that it would discourage the participation of noncitizens and result in an undercount. The Justice Department submitted its request just under the wire.