Attorney General Bill Barr said Monday that in “next day or two” the Trump administration’s approach to getting a citizenship question back on the census will become clear.
“I think over the next day or two you’ll see what approach we’re taking,” Barr told reporters after touring a federal prison in South Carolina, according to the Post and Courier. “[A]nd I think it does provide a pathway for getting the question on the census.”
Barr additionally told the AP that he believed the Supreme Court’s ruling against the administration on the issue was “wrong” and that he had believed that there is “an opportunity potentially to cure the lack of clarity that was the problem and we might as well take a shot at doing that.”
The comments were the first made publicly by Barr himself about the Justice Department’s giant reversal in the census citizenship fight. After a Supreme Court decision last month striking down the administration’s initial attempt to add the question, the Justice Department said publicly Tuesday that the citizenship question would not be on the 2020 census. Administration officials reportedly concluded that their claims in court of a June 30 printing deadline constrained them from trying to re-add it. However, after President Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he was “absolutely moving forward” with adding the question, DOJ lawyers told a federal judge that they had been “instructed” to find an avenue to get the question included on the 2020 survey.
The Supreme Court’s decision upheld a lower court’s ruling blocking the question because five justices — including Chief Justice John Roberts — found the administration’s official rationale, for Voting Rights Act enforcement, to be bogus. However, Roberts’ opinion left the administration plenty of room to ask about citizenship status in the future if it put forward a legitimate reason for doing so.
So far, the Justice Department has not said what alternative justification it will try to offer to get the question back on the census, and, according to the Post and Courier, Barr did not provide additional details about the new approach in the comments he made Monday.
According to the AP, President Trump may sign a presidential memorandum on the issue.