White House counselor Kellyanne Conway compared the inclusion of a question about a person’s citizenship on the U.S. census to the government asking about the number of running toilets a person has in their home, arguing the toilet question was actually “more intrusive” than citizenship.
“Why can’t we just ask the question the way it was asked for 50 years before the Obama administration yanked it out of there?” she said during a friendly interview with “Fox and Friends” Tuesday morning. “Think of all the questions that nobody complains are included in our U.S. census every 10 years that include a far, far, far smaller number of Americans, or I would argue, are much more intrusive, invasive and expansive. We’re asking about how many toilets are in your house and you don’t want to know who’s using them? It’s absolutely ridiculous and this is why the President is fighting for its inclusion.”
Kellyanne Conway claims toilet question on census is more "invasive" than asking about citizenship. pic.twitter.com/VHABu2Msul
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) July 9, 2019
The plumbing question was last included on the 2000 census (question No. 39) and it has been asked on the American Community Survey — which the Census Bureau gives out to small percentages of the population every year, over the course of the 10 years in between each census — in the past. In 2014, the Census Bureau said it would consider changing the plumbing question on the American Community Survey, along with inquiries about income, disabilities and commuting, as respondents thought they were too invasive. The question was not on the 2016 survey.
The toilet flushing question on the survey produced data about plumbing access across the U.S., which is used by local, state and federal governments to provide funding for housing assistance and other programs that ensure people have access to sanitary housing conditions.
Conway made the remarks after she was asked about what Attorney General Bill Barr was alluding to when he said the Trump administration was working on a path to get the citizenship question back on the census. So far, the White House has not said what legal path in intends to pursue. Conway claimed on Tuesday that the Supreme Court “did not issue a legal impediment decision, they basically said come back and give us a different rationale.”
The Supreme Court last month blocked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ push to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, but the opinion arguably left the Trump administration with some wiggle room to re-add it.
Here’s TPM’s rundown on what comes next in this ongoing legal battle.