A judge for the US District Court for the District of Maryland ruled on Friday that including a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census would violate administrative law.
The plaintiffs, who are individuals and organizations, said that the Department of Commerce and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the Administrative Procedure Act and conspired “to violate their civil rights.”
Ross announced his plan to add the citizenship question in March 2018.
Judge George Hazel said in his opinion, “The decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the [Administrative Procedure Act].” Hazel said that the decision “‘ran counter to the evidence before the agency,’ and was not based on facts, a ‘different view, or ‘agency expertise.'”
However, he also ruled that question did not amount to a conspiracy to violate civil rights because the plaintiffs did not meet their burden of showing the question was motivated by racial discrimination.
Hazel set aside Ross’ judgment and granted an injunction against the question appearing on the census.
In March a federal district judge in California blocked the citizenship question from appearing on the 2020 Census. A federal district judge in New York ruled in January that the question violates the APA. In February the Supreme Court agreed to hear the New York case.