US official: 2020 census to end Oct. 5 despite court order

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross says the 2020 census will end Oct. 5, despite a federal judge's ruling last week that the head count of every U.S. resident should continue through the end of October, according to a tweet posted on the Census Bureau's website Monday.

The U.S. Census logo appears on census materials received in the mail with an invitation to fill out census information online on March 19, 2020 in San Anselmo, California.

FILE - The U.S. Census logo appears on census materials received in the mail with an invitation to fill out census information online on March 19, 2020 in San Anselmo, California. (GETTY) (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The tweet said the ability for people to self-respond to the census questionnaire and the door-knocking phase when census takers go to homes that haven't yet responded is ending Oct. 5.

The announcement came as a virtual hearing was being held in San Jose, California, as a follow-up to U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh's preliminary injunction. The injunction ordered last week suspended the Census Bureau's deadline for ending the head count on Sept. 30, which automatically reverted the deadline back to an older Census Bureau plan in which the deadline for ending field operations was Oct. 31.

The new Oct. 5 deadline doesn't necessarily violate the judge's order because the injunction just suspended the Sept. 30 deadline for field operations and a Dec. 31 deadline the Census Bureau has for turning in figures used for determining how many congressional seats each state gets in a process known as apportionment.

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Koh asked federal government attorneys during Monday's hearing to provide documents on how the new decision to end the head count on Oct. 5 was made. When a federal government lawyer suggested that the decision making was a moving target without any records, the judge asked, “A one sentence tweet? Are you saying that is enough reason to establish decision-making? A one sentence tweet?"

Koh said in her ruling last Thursday that the shortened schedule ordered by President Donald Trump’s administration likely would produce inaccurate results that would last a decade. She sided with civil rights groups and local governments that had sued the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Commerce, which oversees the statistical agency, arguing that minorities and others in hard-to-count communities would be missed if the counting ends this month.

Attorneys for the federal government said they were appealing the decision. During hearings, federal government attorneys argued that the head count needed to end Sept. 30 in order to meet a Dec. 31 deadline for handing in figures used for deciding how many congressional seats each state gets in a process known as apportionment.

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