Another ‘Constitutional Crisis:’ Democratic Lawmakers Decry Abrupt, Illegal Suspension of 2020 Census
Late in the afternoon on Monday, the US Census Bureau and Commerce Department, at the direction of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, quietly announced that the 2020 Census will be suspended on October 5 in direct defiance of an injunction and restraining order issued by a federal judge.
The decision to flout a court order has some Democratic lawmakers ringing alarms about yet another impending constitutional crisis triggered by President Donald Trump and his sycophantic Cabinet.
“The Trump administration is defying a court order that allows the public to submit census responses through October. This is disturbing and another example of the Trump admin politicizing the census,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-MI) tweeted Monday following the announcement. “Rushing the census risks an inaccurate census and a constitutional crisis.”
The Trump administration is defying a court order that allows the public to submit census responses through October. This is disturbing and another example of the Trump admin politicizing the census. Rushing the census risks an inaccurate census and a constitutional crisis. https://t.co/dpEOnWnPrl
— Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (@SenatorShaheen) September 28, 2020
House Oversight Chair Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said in a statement Monday night that the Trump Administration’s flagrant disregard for judicial authority and politicization of the constitutionally mandated census imperils crucial funding for states across the country:
Today’s cryptic announcement by the Trump Administration appears to directly contradict the clear orders of a federal court, which requires the Census Bureau to continue counting households until October 31. This should not be a partisan issue. The Trump Administration’s unlawful undercount will negatively affect the hundreds of millions of dollars that both red and blue states are due in federal funding. It is time that the Trump Administration stopped working to politicize and jeopardize the 2020 Census.
On Tuesday, former astronaut and Democratic Senate hopeful Mark Kelly (AZ) stressed the importance of completing census forms – which can be accomplished in a few minutes online – as quickly as possible:
The census will decide how much federal funding goes to Arizona over the next ten years. So if you haven’t yet, fill it out before it’s too late: https://t.co/SE4ncxGPVg
— Captain Mark Kelly (@CaptMarkKelly) September 29, 2020
Last week, US District Judge Lucy Koh issued a preliminary injunction suspending the Commerce Department’s completion deadline of Septemeber 30, which automatically extended the national population tally until October 31, the date set by the US Census Bureau. The census was originally scheduled to conclude in July, but the coronavirus pandemic made that impossible.
In her ruling, Koh said that the September 30 deadline established by the Trump Administration would not allow enough time to collect accurate data, particularly among communities of color.
Koh was holding a virtual hearing as a followup to her injunction, which included a restraining order aimed at preventing the Census Bureau from defying her ruling, at the same time the Commerce Department made its announcement on Monday.
Koh tore into the government’s excuse that her ruling amounted to a vague moving of the goalposts with no clear objective.
“A one sentence tweet? Are you saying that is enough reason to establish decision-making? A one sentence tweet?” Koh replied, reported the Associated Press.
Thirty-five days until the election.