A federal judge just ruled against the Trump administration's push for a citizenship question on the 2020 Census

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesForms for Census 2010 are displayed
  • On Tuesday, a New York court blocked the Trump administration’s plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
  • The decision is a win for civil rights groups, which said the question would lead to inaccurate counts.
  • US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross argued that the question was necessary to uphold provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

A New York federal court on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census on Tuesday, a win for civil rights groups that argued the question would frighten immigrant households from participating in the Census.

The decision will likely send the case to the Supreme Court.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has argued that the question is necessary to uphold certain provisions of the Voting Rights Act. He first announced the question in March 2018, immediately drawing criticism from immigrant-rights groups. The US hasn’t asked a citizenship question on the Census since 1950.

Immigrant rights argued that lower turnouts or miscounts in the census could ultimately affect the allocation of congressional seats and billions in federal dollars for services.

“It follows that a court cannot sustain agency action founded on a pretextual or sham justification that conceals the true ‘basis’ for the decision,” US District Court Judge Jesse Furman wrote in his decision.

Read more:Citizenship question could hamper U.S. Census response: officialThe American Civil Liberties Union, New York Civil Liberties Union, and Arnold & Porter brought the challenge on behalf of immigrants’ rights groups. Dale Ho, the director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said the ruling is “a forceful rebuke of the Trump administration’s attempt to weaponize the census for an attack on immigrant communities.”

“The evidence at trial, including from the government’s own witness, exposed how adding a citizenship question would wreck the once-in-a-decade count of the nation’s population,” Ho said. “The inevitable result would have been – and the administration’s clear intent was – to strip federal resources and political representation from those needing it most.”

The decision comes after a three-week trial that started in November.

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