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Judge says 2020 census must continue for another month

This Sunday, April 5, 2020, photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit. If you're a census slacker and haven’t yet filled out the form for the 2020 head count, the federal government is trying another way to get in touch with you. Starting Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau is mailing out millions of paper forms to homes whose residents haven’t yet answered the once-a-decade questionnaire. Photo: AP Photo/Paul Sancya. This Sunday, April 5, 2020, photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit. If you're a census slacker and haven’t yet filled out the form for the 2020 head count, the federal government is trying another way to get in touch with you. Starting Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau is mailing out millions of paper forms to homes whose residents haven’t yet answered the once-a-decade questionnaire.

The Associated Press
Created: September 25, 2020 07:28 AM

A federal judge has stopped the 2020 census from finishing at the end of September and ordered the once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident to continue for another month through the end of October, saying a shortened schedule likely would produce inaccurate results.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in California made her ruling late Thursday, two days after hearing arguments from attorneys for the Census Bureau, and attorneys for civil rights groups and local governments that had sued the Census Bureau in an effort to halt the 2020 census from stopping at the end of the month.

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Attorneys for the civil rights groups and local governments said the shortened schedule would undercount residents in minority and hard-to-count communities.

Koh said inaccuracies produced from a shortened schedule would affect the distribution of federal funding and political representation. The census is used to determine how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed each year and how many congressional seats each state gets.

Government attorneys had argued that the census must finish by the end of September to meet a Dec. 31 deadline for turning over numbers used for deciding how many congressional seats each state gets.

Koh's preliminary injunction suspends that end-of-the-year deadline, too. The San Jose, California-based judge had previously issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Census Bureau from winding down field operations until she made a ruling in the lawsuit.

Attorneys for the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce, which oversees the agency, had said during the hearing they would likely appeal.


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