The Trump administration has asked a court to block Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from being ordered to give a deposition explaining his decision to reinstate a citizenship status question in the upcoming 2020 census.
“Defendants respectfully request a stay of all discovery, including the depositions of Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., and John M. Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, pending review by the United States Supreme Court,” administration officials wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of the Southern District of New York.
Specifically, the officials wrote, the Trump administration is seeking a stay of discovery pending the Supreme Court’s review of an appeals court order.
Furman, last week, ordered that Ross sit for a deposition because “among other things, his intent and credibility are directly at issue.”
The Second Circuit ruled earlier this week that acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore must also sit or a deposition.
The Justice Department on Friday requested that Furman block the depositions until the Supreme Court can review the case, according to the motion obtained by Politico.
The order for deposition was triggered by lawsuits filed by more than a dozen cities and states over Ross’s decision to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census.
Ross reportedly considered the question soon after he was appointed to his role in February 2017.
Furman wrote in his original opinion that Ross had an “unusually strong personal interest in the matter,” and that he went through with this action despite “strong and continuing opposition” from the U.S. Census Bureau.
He previously rejected the Trump administration’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging its decision to add a citizenship question.
BY MORGAN GSTALTER – 09/29/18