NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal judge in Manhattan has dismissed a lawsuit accusing the Trump administration of depriving the U.S. Census Bureau of funding needed to avert an undercount of racial and ethnic minorities in the 2020 census.
At a Wednesday hearing, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein also refused to issue an injunction requiring the bureau to spend $770 million left over from prior appropriations to deploy more enumerators who visit homes, boost community outreach, and open more field offices and assistance centers.
The plaintiffs, Brooklyn-based nonprofit Center for Popular Democracy Action and the city of Newburgh, New York, had argued that federal cost-cutting threatened undercounts of blacks, Hispanics, immigrants and the homeless.
Census data are used to award billions of dollars of federal funds and determine political representation.
Critics of undercounting believe many people in “hard-to-count” communities are more likely to vote for Democrats.
The government had called the plaintiffs’ claims too speculative, and said the U.S. Constitution did not require additional spending.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond on Thursday to requests for comment. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan, whose office represented the Census Bureau, had no immediate comment.
The lawsuit was filed last Nov. 26. A federal appeals court on Dec. 19 revived part of a similar lawsuit brought in Maryland by the NAACP.
On Wednesday, the Census Bureau suspended field operations through April 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic, which could threaten the accuracy of the census, which the Constitution requires every 10 years.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum
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A federal judge in Manhattan has dismissed a lawsuit accusing the Trump administration of depriving the U.S. Census Bureau of funding needed to avert an undercount of racial and ethnic minorities in the 2020 census.