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Judge blocks Trump administration plan to shorten census deadline

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On Saturday, a federal judge in California ordered the Trump administration to stop winding down in-person counting efforts for the 2020 census.

According to the Washington Post, the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California comes after plaintiffs that include: the National Urban League, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the League of Women Voters and jurisdictions in Texas, Washington state and California, filed a lawsuit to stop the government from ending the census count a month earlier than planned.

READ MORE: Census, like Post Office, politicized in election year

The ruling is expected to remain in effect until September 17, when a court hearing will be held for the plaintiffs’ request for a court order that would require census counting to continue through October 31.

Census data provides more than just population count. It is also used to regulate congressional appointments, federal funding, and redistricting.

A pamphlet with 2020 census information is included in a box of food to be distributed by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank to people facing economic or food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic on August 6, 2020 in Paramount, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Thomas Wolf, a senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, which is one of the agencies representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement: “Today’s ruling buys the census some precious and indispensable time by barring the administration from shutting down the count while the federal courts are still considering our request for relief.”

Plaintiffs have accused the Trump administration of trying to speed up the census count so that Republicans would have an advantage in representation and funding.

After the Judge Koh’s ruling, the Justice Department, which is representing the Census Bureau, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Census Bureau said in a statement that it was “obligated to comply with the Court’s Order” and was “taking immediate steps to do so . . . Enumeration will continue.”

READ MORE: Fill out your US census — our democracy depends on it

Census experts have warned that there is a risk of an inaccurate count if the collection and processing of the data is rushed.

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which is another organization helping to represent the plaintiff’s of the lawsuit, told National Public Radio: “Ensuring a complete and accurate 2020 Census is one of the most important civil rights issues of the day.”

“We will continue to hold this administration accountable in its attempts to omit people of color, immigrants and other vulnerable populations from the 2020 Census,” Clarke concluded.

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