A federal judge in Maryland ruled Friday against the government’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The ruling, by Judge George J. Hazel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Greenbelt, Maryland, found that the government violated adminstrative law. It is the third strike against the Trump administration over the question and, like the other two, will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ March 2018 announcement of the question caused an outcry among former Census Bureau directors, statisticians, civil rights organizations and Democratic lawmakers.
Opponents said the late addition, which did not undergo the years of planning and testing that new questions usually do, would lead to undercounts among immigrant communities and affect federal funding, apportionment and redistricting. They noted that the bureau’s own analysis found that adding the question could jeopardize the accuracy of the survey. The government has said that it needs the question to better enforce the Voting Rights Act.
Friday’s ruling comes as the Supreme Court is set to take up the question April 23. Federal judges in New York and California earlier this year ordered the government to stop its plans to add it.