Judge will rule later this week on shortening time frame for U.S. census data collection

A federal judge in San Jose heard arguments Tuesday on a preliminary injunction that would block the U.S. Census Bureau from shortening the time frames for gathering and processing data for the 2020 census.

The plaintiffs — a group including the National Urban League and the cities of San Jose, Los Angeles and Salinas — sued the U.S. Department of Commerce and Secretary Wilbur Ross, and the Bureau and Director Steven Dillingham, based on a decision by the secretary and the director to force “the Census Bureau to compress eight-and-a-half months of vital data-collection and data-processing into four-and-a-half months, against the judgment of the bureau’s staff and in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic.”

The census is significant because the results are used to determine congressional representation and are also used in apportioning federal funds distributed to the states. According to the plaintiffs, “undercounted cities, counties, and municipalities will lose representation in Congress and tens of millions of dollars in funding. And communities of color will lose core political power and vital services.”

The suit challenges changes made in the operational plan that guided the bureau’s data gathering and processing for the decennial census.

The initial plan was upended by the pandemic and in April revisions to the plan reset and extended a number of the deadlines in the initial plan. However, on Aug. 3, according to the plaintiffs, the secretary and director abruptly changed course and shortened the deadlines in the revised plan.

According to the plaintiffs, the staff at the bureau believed that the shortened deadlines would prevent a complete and accurate count.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh had previously entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants that prevented them from implementing the revised plan.

After the entry of the order, the government turned over internal documents. One of the documents was an email between bureau employees that stated “we need to sound the alarm to realities on the ground … it is ludicrous to think we can complete 100 percent of the nation’s data collection (by the revised deadline) … and any thinking person who would believe we can deliver apportionment (by the revised deadline) has either a mental deficiency or a political motivation.”

Most of the argument at the hearing was devoted to the technical question raised by the government of whether the decision to revise the deadlines constituted “final agency action” that could be reviewed by a court. The judge took the matter under advisement and promised to release her decision no later than Thursday, when the order expires.

Bay Area NewsCaliforniaPolitics

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Anti-eviction demonstrators rally outside San Francisco Superior Court. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Report: Unpaid rent due to COVID-19 could be up to $32.7M per month

A new city report that attempts to quantify how much rent has… Continue reading

Music venues around The City have largely been unable to reopen due to ongoing pandemic health orders. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF to cut $2.5M in fees to help 300 nightlife venues

San Francisco will cut $2.5 million in fees for hundreds of entertainment… Continue reading

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett departs the U.S. Capitol on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Ginsburg’s death. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
GOP senators confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court in partisan vote

By Jennifer Haberkorn Los Angeles Times The Senate on Monday confirmed Judge… Continue reading

Curator Tim Burgard looks over a section of the galleries comprising “The de Young Open,” a huge, varied collection of work by Bay Area artists. (Photo courtesy Gary Sexton/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)
Bay Area artists jam-pack vivid ‘de Young Open’

Huge exhibition — with works for sale — showcases diversity, supports community

SF Board of Education vice president Gabriela Lopez and commissioner Alison Collins listen at a news conference condemning recent racist and social media attacks targeted at them and the two student representatives on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Online attacks on school board members denounced by city officials

City officials on Monday condemned the targeting of school board members, both… Continue reading

Most Read