A U.S. district judge issued a nationwide injunction Thursday night that requires the Census Bureau to return to its original schedule of enumeration of the population through October 31. Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court in San Jose cited conflicting statements exchanged among high-ranking Census officials, and said that the Trump administration had violated "their constitutional and statutory obligations to produce an accurate census" by ordering the counting to be cut short and completed by September 30.
Koh's ruling went further to allow the Census Bureau to return to its schedule of delivering final Census numbers in April 2021, due to delays caused by the pandemic, and not on December 31, as was being insisted upon by the Trump administration. As the Chronicle reports, Koh pointed to an email sent by the Bureau's associate director for field operations, Tim Olson, sent just two weeks before the August 3 announcement of the sped-up schedule. In the email, Olson stated that anyone who believed that complete Census results could be delivered by the end of the year "has either a mental deficiency or a political motivation."
The New York Times notes another internal Census document cited by Judge Koh in which an official said that a shortened timeline for counting would lead to "fatal data flaws that are unacceptable for a constitutionally mandated national activity."
"The Aug. 3 press release never explains why defendants are ‘required by law’ to follow a statutory deadline that would sacrifice constitutionally and statutorily required interests in accuracy," Judge Koh wrote in a 78-page ruling.
Judge Koh had previously issued a temporary restraining order that required all Census enumeration to continue, and for no Census takers to be laid off. Last week, she asked the Department of Justice for an exact number of Census enumerators currently employed, and she pointed to a discrepancy of some 30,000 between September 11 and September 15 that suggested her order had already been violated.
As the Chronicle reported last week, Census enumerators in San Francisco were told as early as August 11 to stop counting in the city, and that there was no more available work for them. Six people employed to do counting footwork for the Census Bureau in the city described to the paper "a chaotic, slipshod training in early August, a short time of poorly organized counting and then an abrupt cutoff of their work."
It has been widely understood by those of us not brainwashed by Fox News or OAN that Trump and the Republicans have wanted a rushed count in order to undercount minorities and low-income people, and in order to make sure that Census numbers that will dictate congressional representation are still in Trump's control before January, when he may or may not still be in office. The Trump administration as already appealed a ruling by a federal judge in New York rejecting Trump's call to exclude undocumented immigrants from the Census.
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