Trump Administration to Leave Out Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

The official US Census form, pictured on March 18, 2010 in Washington, DC, is required to be filled out and returned to the US Government by April 1, 2010. The all-important US tally determines everything from the number of seats a district is entitled in the US Congress, to the …
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump Administration will not include a question regarding citizenship on its census in 2020, according to an Obama-era White House Counsel Office lawyer.

“HUGE CENSUS NEWS — the Government just advised that the decision has been made to print the the census questionnaire WITHOUT the citizenship question. We won,” Daniel Jacobson wrote on Twitter, before sharing a screenshot of the email from Department of Justice trial attorney Kate Bailey confirming the news.

The development comes after the Supreme Court last Thursday kept the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the census for now. Following the decision, President Donald Trump said he asked lawyers if they can “delay the Census, no matter how long” until the “United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision” on the issue. Under federal law the census must begin on April 1, 2020.

During arguments in the case at the Supreme Court in April it seemed as though the Trump administration would win because Chief Justice John Roberts and other conservatives did not appear to see anything wrong with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add the question. Ultimately, however, Roberts joined the court’s four more liberal members in saying the administration’s current justification for the question “seems to have been contrived.”

The Trump administration had said the question was being added to aid in the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters’ access to the ballot box. “Altogether, the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the secretary gave for his decision,” Roberts wrote.

Justice Clarence Thomas said in dissent that “the court’s erroneous decision…unjustifiably interferes with the 2020 census.” Trump’s two appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, joined Thomas’ opinion. Justice Samuel Alito wrote separately in a partial dissent.

The Constitution requires a census count every 10 years. A question about citizenship had once been common, but it has not been widely asked since 1950. At the moment, the question is part of a separate detailed annual sample of a small chunk of the population, the American Community Survey.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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