District Court Finds Decision to Add Citizenship Question to Census Violated APA January 15, 2019
There is no dispute that the Constitution, the Census Act, and the APA allow the Secretary of Commerce broad discretion over the design and administration of the decennial census. See Wisconsin, 517 U.S. at 18-20. Generally speaking, they do not preclude the Secretary from charting a new policy.
Significantly, however, the discretion that they allow the Secretary is not unlimitedHe must comply with the policy decisions that Congress * to which the Constitution gives authority over the census * has made and enshrined in statute, including but not limited to the preference for obtaining data through administrative records rather than through direct inquiries. He must follow the procedures mandated by law. And more broadly, the exercise of his statutory authority must *be reasonable and reasonably explained.* Mfrs. Ry. Co., 676 F.3d at 1096.
Measured against these standards, Secretary Ross*s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census * even if it did not violate the Constitution itself * was unlawful for a multitude of independent reasons and must be set aside. To conclude otherwise and let Secretary Ross*s decision stand would undermine the proposition * central to the rule of law * that ours Case 1:18-cv-05025-JMF Document 166 Filed 01/15/19 Page 276 of 277
is a *government of laws, and not of men.* John Adams, Novanglus Papers, No. 7 (1775). And
it would do so with respect to what Congress itself has described as *one of the most critical
constitutional functions our Federal Government performs.* 1998 Appropriations Act,
* 209(a)(5), 111 Stat. at 2480-81.
the Court vacates Secretary Ross*s decision to add a citizenship question to 2020 census questionThe Court enjoins Defendants from implementing Secretary Ross*s March, 26, 2018 decision or from adding aquestion to the 2020 census questionnaire without curing the legal defects identified in this Opinion, and remands the matter to the Secretary of Commerce (to the extent that such a *remand* is even necessary) for further proceedings not inconsistent with the Court*s Order.