Appeals Court OKs Wilbur Ross Deposition, With Delay For SCOTUS Review

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10:  U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross testifies during a hearing before the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of Senate Appropriations Committee May 10, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The subcommittee held a hearing on the FY2019 funding request and budget justification for the Commerce Department.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

An appeals court Tuesday said that it agreed with a federal judge’s order that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sit for a deposition in the Census citizenship question case, but that it was putting the order on hold for 48 hours so it could be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Ross had been slated to sit for the deposition on Thursday.

“As the District Court noted, deposition testimony by three of Secretary Ross’s aides indicated that only the Secretary himself would be able to answer the Plaintiffs’ questions,” the appeals court said.

The Trump administration has already turned to the Supreme Court once to try to halt the deposition. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who handled that request, because she oversees the appellate circuit from where it came up — denied that initial request, but also left the door open for the Trump administration to come back to the Supreme Court once the appeals court weighed in, as it did on Tuesday.

The Justice Department has also been unsuccessful, so far, in blocking the deposition of John Gore, a top political appointee at the Justice Department who’s slated for deposition Wednesday. Gore appears to have been involved in drafting a December 2017 Justice Department letter requesting that Ross add the question for voting rights law enforcement — a request Ross granted this year. Internal records released as part of the litigation, however, show Ross was eager to add the question early on in the Trump presidency, contradicting his claims in congressional testimony that the DOJ had initiated the request.

The administration is facing numerous lawsuits challenging the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Census from those who fear the move will discourage immigrant participation in the survey.

This particular case is a consolidation of lawsuits brought in New York by state Attorney General Barbara Underwood and the ACLU.

Read Tuesday’s appeals court order below:

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