President Trump on Thursday said that he is asking his administration to temporarily delay the 2020 census in light of the Supreme Court ruling blocking the question for the time being.
“I have asked the 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 this very critical matter,” Trump said in a series of tweets, suggesting that his officials will look to provide another reason to be able to ask about citizenship status on the survey.
“Can anyone really believe that as a great Country, we are not able the ask whether or not someone is a Citizen. Only in America!”
The Supreme Court earlier Thursday ruled 5-4 against the Trump administration over the census citizenship question, finding that the official reasoning for the question was not in line with evidence presented in the case.
The justices, in a majority opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, sent the matter back to the Commerce Department to provide a reasoning more aligned with the evidence.
The justices also sent the case back down to a lower court for further proceedings.
A delay in the census would be a significant drain on resources, as the survey is often planned years in advance. And the Trump administration has argued in court filings that it needs to start printing materials by Sunday in order to get the census out in time — a claim the president has indicated he is now willing to abandon, having lost in court.
Delaying the census could also spur additional legal challenges, as the Constitution mandates that a census be conducted every 10 years.
The Trump administration had argued that the question was needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act. But opponents of the question said asking about citizenship would cause non-citizens and immigrants to skip the question or the census altogether, leading to an inaccurate count of the population.
He, in particular, noted that Ross — whose agency oversees the census — had indicated an interest in asking about citizenship on the 2020 survey early into his tenure. And Roberts wrote that the Justice Department, which enforces the Voting Rights Act, appeared to be more interested in “helping the Commerce Department than to securing the data.”
Trump is currently in Japan for the Group of 20 summit. He sent the tweet about 2:30 a.m. local time.
The president has previously tweeted in support of the citizenship question. He tweeted on April 1 that the survey would be “meaningless” without the question, and later wrote that the “American people deserve to know who is in this Country.”
That last message also stood in contrast to the administration’s legal argument that the citizenship question is needed to enforce the voting law.