June 27, 2019

Trump Wants Census Delay After Citizenship Question Blocked
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said Thursday he has asked lawyers to delay the U.S. census after the Supreme Court put on hold his plan to include a citizenship question in the survey next year.“Can anyone really believe that as a great Country, we are not able the ask whether or not someone is a Citizen. Only in America!” Trump tweeted.The outcome of the case has sweeping political implications. The Census Bureau has found that adding a citizenship question could depress the response rate of minority households, which could result in large numbers of undocumented immigrants not being counted.If that were to happen, states with large immigrant populations -- such as California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, New York and Illinois -- could potentially lose a seat in the U.S. House as well as votes in the Electoral College.The court left open a path that might still let the question be added, but it would require the government to move quickly with a new justification -- and to win what would certainly be a new court fight.The Trump administration has said repeatedly that the issue must be resolved by July 1 to allow enough time to send out the questionnaire by April 2020, the date set by Congress for the census to go out. The Constitution requires a census be conducted every ten years.The divided court said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s explanation -- that the citizenship question would help the Justice Department enforce the Voting Rights Act -- couldn’t be squared with the evidence about its motivations. The court said the Commerce Department’s explanation for adding the citizenship question “seems to have been contrived.”The high court ruling sends the matter back to the Commerce Department, which could try again to add the question with a better explanation. It’s unclear how long that process would take.Opponents of the citizenship question declared victory, saying it will be almost impossible for the administration to complete that process and win a court fight in time for the 2020 census.“If they try to do this over the weekend, that is, I think, a clear sign of cutting corners that does not comport with reasoned decision making,” said American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Dale Ho, who argued the case.They had argued that adding that question would deter undocumented immigrants from returning the survey. The Census Bureau had found that would be the outcome, but Ross overrode that conclusion.In April, Trump said a census without a citizenship question would be a waste of money.“Can you believe that the Radical Left Democrats want to do our new and very important Census Report without the all important Citizenship Question,” Trump tweeted. “Report would be meaningless and a waste of the $Billions (ridiculous) that it costs to put together!”The question before the court was whether the administration acted on a legitimate need for information on the non-citizen population or on a desire to limit its political power. Ross, whose department includes the Census Bureau, initially said he added the question after a request from the Justice Department to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.Later he acknowledged that he had discussed the issue with immigration hawks including Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was on the president’s disbanded voter-fraud commission, and former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, before pressing the Justice Department on the question.Another Census Bureau questionnaire includes a citizenship question: the American Community Survey, which is more frequent than the 10-year census but goes to a smaller group of people making it statistically less accurate.(Updates with court argument beginning in 13th paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Shannon Pettypiece in Washington at spettypiece@bloomberg.net;Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Joshua Gallu, Justin BlumFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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