Jeff Sessions Explodes After Judge Slaps Several Trump Officials With Deposition On Census Citizenship Question
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday launched a vicious attack against a federal judge who ordered that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and another top Justice Department official sit for depositions in lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was outrageous.
In prepared remarks before the Heritage Foundation, Sessions attacked what he called “activist judges,” who “view themselves as something akin to roving inspectors general for the entire Executive branch.”
The judge, Jesse Furman on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, ordered the depositions as a way to get a better understand how the decision to add the citizenship question was made and who was involved.
Sessions said the citizenship question is either legal or illegal.
“The words on the page don’t have a motive; they are either permitted or they are not. But the judge has decided to hold a trial over the inner-workings of a Cabinet Secretary’s mind,” he said, according to The Hill.
Ross told Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) on the House Appropriations Committee in March 20 hearing he was not aware of any discussions with White House officials about adding the question to the Census.
However, he appears to have lied under oath.
Citing court documents filed last week, The Hill revealed that Ross talked with Stephen Bannon, then President Trump’s chief White House strategist, and Sessions about adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census.
Furman’s ruling was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals last week, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed to put it on hold while the Supreme Court considers whether the depositions can go forward.
The court’s decision came in two lawsuits that have been consolidated challenging the question. One of the cases was brought by New York and 16 other blue-leaning states, while the other challenge came from a coalition on immigrant groups.
The challengers argue asking about citizenship will scare people in immigrant communities away from responding to the census and lead to an inaccurate count.