Justice Department lawyers told a federal judge on Friday that they would press ahead in their efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, but indicated they did not know yet what kind of rationale they would put forward.
The assertion capped a chaotic week in which administration officials first promised to abide by a Supreme Court order that effectively blocked the question from next year’s head count, then reversed themselves after President Trump denounced their statements on Twitter as “fake news” and pledged to restore the question.
Mr. Trump told reporters on Friday morning that he was considering issuing an executive order adding the question to the census, one of four or five options that had been presented to him.
Government lawyers have been scrambling since Mr. Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to find a way to restore the citizenship question while obeying the Supreme Court’s order. The justices ruled last week that the administration’s rationale for the question was “contrived,” and said that it could be added to census questionnaires only if officials could offer an acceptable explanation of why it was needed. [Continue reading…]
President Trump just explained why he thinks we need a citizenship question on the census. But in doing so, he seems to have said the quiet part out loud — and conceivably could have undercut the Justice Department’s legal case.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said you need the census citizenship question “for many reasons.”
“Number one, you need it for Congress — you need it for Congress for districting,” he said Friday. “You need it for appropriations — where are the funds going? How many people are there? Are they citizens? Are they not citizens? You need it for many reasons.”
Take note of that first one. Not only was a redistricting rationale not mentioned by the administration in its failed legal defense of the question, but it was actually something the other side argued was the administration’s true motivation. The plaintiffs in the case — and many who oppose the citizenship question — have argued that this is a thinly veiled attempt by Republicans to gain a potential game-changing tool in redistricting. [Continue reading…]