Supreme Court Puts Key Depositions In Census Citizenship Case On Hold Briefly

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18:  U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross attends a meeting of the National Space Council at the East Room of the White House June 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to establish the Space Force, an independent and co-equal military branch, as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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The deposition of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in the Census citizenship case has been put on a brief hold by the Supreme Court.

The order — from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has oversight of the appellate circuit from which the Justice Department’s petition to block the deposition came up — pauses a federal judge’s orders that Ross and John Gore, a top DOJ official, be deposed, as well as his order for additional discovery in the case.

The depositions and additional discovery are on hold pending a response, due by Thursday 4 p.m. ET, from the parties in the case. The case is slated to go to trial Nov. 5, with a discovery deadline that was supposed to close this week.

Gore was scheduled to to be deposed on Wednesday, and Ross Thursday before the Supreme Court’s delay. The Trump administration has so far failed to convince lower courts to block their depositions, and the additional discovery.

The challengers in the consolidated case, which includes New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood and the ACLU, have argued that only Ross can fill in key details about the decision-making process and have pointed out that his official reason to add the citizenship question to the census form — that the move was in a response to a Justice Department request — has been undermined by the internal records that have been produced for the case.

Gore, meanwhile, is a Trump appointee heading the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and appears to have been involved in drafting a letter from the Justice Department to Ross claiming the citizenship question would help the department collect data for its Voting Rights Act enforcement.

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