Wilbur Ross insists citizenship census question isn't politically motivated

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross defended his decision to add a citizenship question to the 2o20 census, telling lawmakers on Thursday that he acted solely at the request of the Justice Department to enhance the Voting Rights Act, denying it was intended to influence the allocation of congressional seats across the country.

Why it matters: His testimony before the House Oversight Committee comes after 2 federal judges blocked his move to add the question, ruling it lacks a factual basis for necessity and would unconstitutionally suppress responses from non-citizens. The Supreme Court is set to hold a hearing next month — with a ruling expected by June — on the consequential blockbuster case that would inform and shape public policy for the next decade.

Another federal judge blocks 2020 census citizenship question

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and President Donald Trump.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and President Donald Trump. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco on Wednesday became the second federal judge to block the Trump administration's plan to include a citizenship status question on the 2020 census, a controversial request that has triggered a slew of court challenges.

Details: Seeborg wrote that adding the question to the decennial census, which is used to apportion congressional seats, is "quite effective at depressing self-response rates among immigrants" and that it "poses a significant risk of distorting" congressional representation among the states. The Supreme Court is set to hold a hearing on April 23 to review the government's appeal of a New York federal judge's decision in January to eliminate the question.

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