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Census 2020
This April 5 photo shows and envelope containing a 2020 census letter that was mailed to a Detroit resident. (AP file photo)

After high court ruling, DOJ wants census challenges stopped

Now that the Supreme Court has allowed the Trump administration to end the 2020 census count, the courts should not interfere with efforts to meet a year-end deadline for turning in numbers used for divvying up congressional seats by state, Department of Justice attorneys said recently in court papers.

All further court challenges to the Trump administration’s numbers-crunching methods for the 2020 census should be suspended as the U.S. Census Bureau works toward turning in apportionment numbers by a congressionally-mandated Dec. 31 deadline, Trump administration attorneys said.

The Trump administration filed the court papers in response to a request from U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, over how the case on the census’s timetable should proceed following the Supreme Court ruling. A hearing on the matter had been set for Tuesday but it was postponed until next month.

Koh last month issued a preliminary injunction that allowed the head count to continue through Oct. 31 instead of Sept. 30, and the numbers-crunching to proceed through the end of April 2021 instead of Dec. 31. The district judge sided with a coalition of local governments and advocacy groups that had sued the Trump administration, arguing that minorities and others in hard-to-count communities would be missed if the counting ended in September.

An appellate court suspended Koh’s order as it relates to the numbers-crunching deadline at the end of the year, and the Supreme Court two weeks ago halted the entire preliminary injunction, allowing the field operations for the 2020 census to end.

“This Court and the parties previously expended extraordinary efforts to litigate and adjudicate Plaintiffs’ challenges at a breakneck pace only to have the Supreme Court rightly undo that hard work,” the Trump administration said in court papers. “There is no need to repeat that fruitless process.”

Attorneys for the local governments and advocacy groups said in their response that the Supreme Court ruling provided no guidance on the case since the justices did not explain their decision, which does not conflict with any of the rulings from the lower courts on several issues.

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