A federal judge on Friday rejected the Department of Justice’s request to delay a lawsuit against Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for defying subpoenas from Congress as part of a House investigation into the Trump administration’s handling of the U.S. 2020 Census.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee in July held the two officials in criminal contempt for defying the panel’s subpoenas as lawmakers probe the administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the government’s population count.
Barr and Ross, in the meantime, “have doubled down on their open defiance of the rule of law and refused to produce even a single additional document in response to our Committee’s bipartisan subpoenas,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the House Oversight chairwoman, said in a statement last month.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss in Washington claimed that with the census approaching the House Oversight and Reform Committee has an urgent case, reported The Hill. As a result, he set an expedited schedule to hear the lawsuit as the Census is slated to start next spring.
“I think it’s important to get going with the process,” said Moss, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, according to The Hill.
Barr and Ross had 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.
The Supreme Court rejected a Trump administration move to add a citizenship question to the upcoming census. Ross said he disagreed with the ruling at the time.
“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 Donald Trump wrote that he would consider delaying the Census so the question could be added.
Trump wrote on Twitter 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.