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Judge blocks Trump administration from ending census early

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the 2020 Census rollout at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on July 29. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI
Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the 2020 Census rollout at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on July 29. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 25 (UPI) -- A federal judge late Thursday blocked the Trump administration from shortening the census by a month, ruling that doing so would create inaccuracies in the once-a-decade nationwide tally.

Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued the injunction, forcing the Trump administration to continue its decennial headcount until Oct. 31 instead of its plan to stop collecting data on Sept. 30.

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The counting effort began Jan. 21, but was suspended in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing it to push its deadline from the end of July to Oct. 31.

The U.S. Census Bureau early last month announced that it would end all door-knocking efforts and self-response filings for the 2020 census at the end of September in order to accelerate its completion.

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Koh's ruling came in response to a lawsuit brought against the Trump administration by a coalition of groups led by the National Urban League in August, arguing the truncated schedule would hurt minorities as an inaccurate count could skew the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives.

In her 78-page ruling, Koh said the Trump administration never explained its decision to fast-track the count by a month and that by doing so there will be inaccuracies in the effort, which goes against the public's interest.

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"The result of this significant compression in these extraordinary times will be inaccuracies in the 'tabulation of total population,'" she wrote. "Inaccuracies in the tabulation harm constitutional and statutory interests. Those constitutional and statutory harms ... will endure until 2030."

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Koh also ruled against the Trump administration's Dec. 31 deadline for the count to be delivered to the White House, leaving the April 2021 deadline intact.

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