A federal judge and a three-judge court of appeals panel on Friday denied requests by the Trump administration to temporarily halt preparations for a trial over the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The rulings came a week and a half before the trial is due to begin in the multistate lawsuit challenging Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add the controversial question to the survey.
In his ruling, Judge Jesse Furman of the U.S. Southern District court in Manhattan cited urgency around deadlines for printing the census forms along with suspicion of Ross’ motives.
“The court found reason to believe that Secretary Ross had provided false explanations of his reasons for, and the genesis of, the citizenship question in both his decision memorandum and in testimony under oath before Congress,” he wrote.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit also denied the government’s request Friday.
Furman had earlier ruled that Ross could be questioned before the trial, but on Monday the Supreme Court put a temporary stay on Ross’ deposition, though it allowed questioning of assistant attorney general John Gore to proceed.
In his ruling Friday, Furman said shielding Ross from questioning would be “regrettable. . . . In fact, one might have thought that Secretary Ross himself would have been eager to testify, if only to clear up the record.”
Government attorneys have indicated they will appeal to the Supreme Court to block the trial.