The House Oversight and Reform Committee filed a lawsuit against Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over the Trump administration’s moves to add a citizenship question to the Census in 2020.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, announced the lawsuit on Tuesday and claimed the White House is engaging in “brazen obstruction of Congress.”
The lawsuit follows a House vote in July to hold Barr and Ross in contempt of Congress. The two issued a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), calling on her to postpone the vote because the documents and materials that were sought were protected, while the White House said the documents are covered by executive privilege, noted The Hill.
In her statement, Maloney said Ross and Barr have not provided any documents amid the subpoenas.
“Despite the committee’s extensive efforts at accommodations, Secretary Ross and Attorney General Barr have refused to provide these critical documents and communications,” House Democrats claimed in their court filing on Tuesday.
“The stakes for Congress and the American people could not be higher, nor the consequences of the ongoing injury more profound,” Democrats said in the lawsuit. “The 2020 Census will have at least 10 years of direct effect on the composition of the House by determining population counts, as well as on the methodology by which the House determines the apportionment of federal funds to the states. If there is maladministration of the 2020 Census, the effects will be felt for decades, and once complete, the damage to the Census cannot be undone.”
Neither the Commerce nor Justice departments have issued a comment following the lawsuit filing.
The Supreme Court in June blocked the Commerce Department from adding the question to the Census.
Following the court’s decision, Ross said he disagreed.
“I respect the Supreme Court but strongly disagree with its ruling regarding my decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 Census,” Ross said in a statement, Reuters reported. “The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question. My focus, and that of the bureau and the entire department, is to conduct a complete and accurate Census,” he said.
Following the ruling, President Trump wrote that he would consider delaying the Census so the question could be added.
Trump wrote at the time: “I have asked the Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice to do whatever is necessary to bring this most vital of questions, and this very important case, to a successful conclusion. USA! USA! USA!”
The upcoming Census begins in January 2020 in Alaska and later across the country in April 2020.