Judge Jesse Furman, the federal judge who originally blocked a Trump administration effort to discourage immigrants from participating in the 2020 census last January, handed down an order on Tuesday that permanently enjoins, or bars, that effort.
Under the terms of the order, the administration is “PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from including a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census questionnaire; from delaying the process of printing the 2020 decennial census questionnaire after June 30, 2019 for the purpose of including a citizenship question; and from asking persons about citizenship status on the 2020 census questionnaire or otherwise asking a citizenship question as part of the 2020 decennial census.”
The Supreme Court determined late last month that the administration’s stated reasons for seeking to add the question to the 2020 census form were pretextual. According to a leading Republican gerrymandering expert, the question would make it easier to allocate congressional seats in a way that “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”
The Census Bureau also calculated that such a question “was likely to lead to a 5.1% differential decrease in self-response rates among noncitizen households.”
After flirting with efforts to revive the question, Trump himself relented during a press event last week. The practical effect of Furman’s latest order is that Trump cannot reverse course and try again to reinstate the question without appealing Furman’s order.
By its terms, however, Furman’s order only applies to the 2020 census. So a future president could try to revive the question in 2030 or beyond.