The Trump administration announced Tuesday that the 2020 census forms will be printed without a citizenship question.
“We can confirm that the decision has been made to print the 2020 Decennial Census questionnaire without a citizenship question, and that the printer has been instructed to begin the printing process,” Department of Justice lawyer Kate Bailey wrote in an email Tuesday.
Community organizers such as the Census Counts campaign who fought to keep the question off the census forms celebrated Tuesday’s decision, but noted that the next battle is ensuring communities that stood most vulnerable to the citizenship question participate in filling out census forms.
“BIG WIN for our democracy. Now our work to ensure a fair and accurate #2020Census moves forward,” tweeted Census Counts after news broke about the administration’s decision. “We're committed to ensuring our communities know that it's safe, important, and necessary to participate.”
The decision to start printing the census without the citizenship question came nearly a week after the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that it could not be included because the DOJ’s explanation for its addition was inadequate.
“We do not hold that the agency decision here was substantively invalid,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts, who was the swing vote in the ruling that sent the case back to a lower court. “But agencies must pursue their goals reasonably.”
After the Supreme Court ruled last Thursday, President Trump tweeted that he asked “the lawyers if they can delay the Census, no matter how long” to give administration officials more time to deliver a better explanation for why the citizenship question should be included.
On Monday, Trump told reporters at the White House that he was looking “very strongly” at delaying the 2020 census, a move that legal experts said would violate Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which requires a decennial count of the population of the United States.
“We’re looking at that,” Trump said. “So you can ask other things, but you can’t ask whether or not somebody is a citizen? So we are trying to do that. We’re looking at that very strongly.”
For months, critics have said that the Trump administration sought to add the citizenship question as a way to suppress minority participation and skew congressional districts in favor of Republicans.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross contended that the citizenship question was necessary to help the Department of Justice enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
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