Trump Administration Drops Citizenship Question From Census

Michelle R. Smith/AP

There will be no citizenship question on the 2020 census, a Justice Department spokesperson told TPM Tuesday after news broke that the administration was likely backing down from its fight to add it.

The spokesperson confirmed the news after a DOJ lawyer informed some of the lawyers challenging the question in court that a version of the survey without the question had been sent to the printers.

The Supreme Court invalidated the March 2018 decision by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to add the question. But the opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, left plenty of legal room for the administration to re-add the question. The major obstacle facing the administration was time, as it claimed repeatedly in court filings that the survey forms needed to be sent to the printers this week.

The update from the Justice Department came less than an hour before the Justice Department was expected to tell a federal judge in Maryland, who is presiding over a separate legal challenge to the question, whether it was going to try to re-add the question.

“I respect the Supreme Court but strongly disagree with its ruling regarding my decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 Census,” Ross said in a statement later Tuesday. “The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question. My focus, and that of the Bureau and the entire Department is to conduct a complete and accurate census.”

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