The Trump administration has announced that it will no longer try to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census.
What’s the background?
In March 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the 2020 census would include a question asking about the citizenship status of every respondent. The state of California promptly sued to block it, and the Trump administration has been locked in a legal battle over this issue ever since.
The census, which is taken every 10 years, is used to determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives, which also impacts the number or Electoral College votes each state has. It’s also used to determine the allocation of federal funds.
On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled that the addition of such a question on the census was constitutional, but left it to the lower courts to determine if the administration’s reasons for adding the question were legitimate. Because of the time that it takes to develop the census itself, this further delay made it unlikely that the question could be added in time.
What happened now?
The Department of Justice sent an email Tuesday to the groups who had been fighting the citizenship question in court, informing them that this was no longer an issue. According to an email tweeted by former Obama lawyer Daniel Jacobson, DOJ trial attorney Kate Bailey wrote:
We can confirm that the decision has been made to print the 2020 Decennial Census questionnaire without a citizenship question, and that the printer has been instructed to begin the printing process.
The Hill also obtained a copy of this same email.
On Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump tweeted, “A very sad time for America when the Supreme Court of the United States won’t allow a question of ‘Is this person a Citizen of the United States?’ to be asked on the #2020 Census! Going on for a long time. I have asked the Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice to do whatever is necessary to bring this most vital of questions, and this very important case, to a successful conclusion. USA! USA! USA!”