WASHINGTON — The Trump administration will carry out the 2020 Census without a citizenship question, according to an email the Justice Department sent Tuesday to groups that sued over the question, marking a huge victory for Democrats and civil rights advocates.
In the email, which was announced via Twitter by civil rights lawyers and independently obtained and verified by BuzzFeed News, a Justice Department trial attorney notified lawyers for the challengers about the administration's decision. The notice came a week after the US Supreme Court ruled that the administration could not add the question, at least not based on the record before the court at the time.
"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," DOJ lawyer Kate Bailey wrote.
Although the Supreme Court's decision represented an immediate loss for the administration, it left open the possibility of adding a citizenship question in the future. A majority of the justices — Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. joined the court's more liberal wing — concluded that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had given a "contrived" reason for adding the question now.
But the opinion was divided into sections. In another part, a different majority of justices — this time, Roberts plus the court's more conservative wing — held that a citizenship question wasn't unconstitutional on its face. This led to speculation that the Trump administration might try to delay the count to come up with a legal strategy that could pass another review by the courts. After the decision came out, Trump tweeted that he'd asked "the lawyers" if they could find a way to delay it.