Originally published September 25, 2020

Lawyers representing the federal government have appealed a judge’s decision to extend the 2020 Census count through October 31. The challenge was filed Friday morning in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who ordered the extension Thursday night, expected the government to try to reverse her ruling.

“Go ahead and appeal me,” Judge Koh said in a hearing earlier this week.

The City of Los Angeles is one of the plaintiffs in the case, along with other local governments and non-profit organizations, who sued after the Trump administration abruptly moved the census deadline up to Sept. 30 several weeks ago.

City leaders have argued that L.A. stands to lose federal funding and political representation from a rushed census, because the majority of residents in L.A. County are considered hard-to-count. Only about two-thirds of the county’s households have filled out their census questionnaires on their own so far.

In a press conference Friday morning, City Attorney Mike Feuer said he’s optimistic the judge’s ruling will stand.

“Rarely have I seen a decision that is so thorough, so well documented, so meticulous, and so well reasoned,” Feuer said.

Local census advocates, like Alejandra Ramirez-Zarate with Advancement Project California, are tentatively celebrating the extension. At this point, she isn’t publicizing the end-of-October deadline so as to avoid creating confusion if it changes again.

“We know that it could be overturned on appeal at any moment,” Ramirez-Zarate said. “Everything is just so sensitive. We wouldn’t want to put this out right now.”

We Count LA, the broader coalition overseeing census outreach in the region, also expressed reservations in a written statement:

“While welcome, this extension in time may be too late for a region that has suffered so much already. With an appeal in the works, we cannot trust that this deadline extension will stand.”

According to a statement released by the U.S. Census Bureau, officials intend to comply with Judge Koh’s ruling, at least for the time being.

This report is reprinted with permission from Southern California Public Radio. © 2020 Southern California Public Radio. All rights reserved.

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