Hours after the nation’s highest court blocked the Trump administration from putting a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, the president tweeted his anger Thursday, and dramatically suggested postponing the census.
“Seems totally ridiculous that our government, and indeed Country, cannot ask a basic question of Citizenship in a very expensive, detailed and important Census, in this case for 2020,” Trump tweeted.
“I have asked the lawyers if they can delay the Census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter.
“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’s comments came after the court, on its last day in session, ruled that the federal Commerce Department has the right to ask U.S. residents if they are citizens, but said the Trump administration has failed to provide an adequate reason for doing so.
In its 5-4 ruling, the court called the Commerce Department’s reasoning for adding the question “contrived.” Commerce officials have said they need to check for citizenship status in order to comply with the federal voting rights acts.
California officials and advocates for immigrants and other minorities called that reasoning a sham, and said they believe the administration’s aim is the opposite – to scare immigrants away from being counted.
California stands to lose tens of millions of dollars annually in federal funds if there is a large undercount, and could lose a seat in Congress.
The court Thursday morning sent the case back to a lower federal court in New York for further consideration, but it leaves the White House little time to make a new case for the citizenship question because the government must soon begin printing materials to carry out the decennial census.
Commerce officials have said they need to print the April 1, 2020, census forms by July 1 to meet deadlines. A Census Bureau testified in court, however, that the printing does not have to be done for several more months.
Under the Trump plan, a person living alone would be asked eight questions on the census form, including name, address, age and race. The final question will be: “Are you a citizen of the United States?” Householders, such as parents, would be asked to answer a similar question for everyone living in their residence: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?”