President Trump on Friday stated that he would look into issuing an executive order to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, while, at the same time, the Justice Department and Department of Commerce have been instructed to review “all available options” to place the question on the census.
When asked if he would issue an executive order on the citizenship question, President Trump stated, “We’re thinking about doing that. We have four or five ways that we can do it. It’s one of the ways and we’re thinking about doing it very seriously. We’re doing well on the census.”
“We can start the printing now and maybe do an addendum after we get a positive decision [by the Court], so we’re working on a lot of things including an executive order,” he added.
After the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the addition of the question due to insufficient rationale by the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice officials and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that the citizenship question on the 2020 census would not be included.
Commerce Secretary Ross already noted that the Census Bureau started printing the questionnaires without the citizenship question.
However, on Wednesday morning, President Trump tweeted, “The News Report about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE! We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.”
Following President Trump’s tweet, lawyers for the Justice Department backtracked and said they would examine whether the Trump administration would add the citizenship question on the census.
Justice lawyer Josh Gardner still pointed out on Wednesday that “the Census Bureau is continuing with the process of printing the questionnaire without a citizenship question, and that process has not stopped.”
A federal judge in Maryland overseeing one of the three lawsuits on the citizenship question gave the Trump administration until 2 p.m. today to explain how it intended to proceed.
In response to the deadline, Justice Department lawyers stated in a court filing: “The Departments of Commerce and Justice have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision, that would allow for the inclusion of the citizenship question on the census.”
They have “been asked to reevaluate all available options following the Supreme Court’s decision.”
“In the event the Commerce Department adopts a new rationale for including the citizenship question on the 2020 Decennial Census consistent with the decisions of the Supreme Court, the government will immediately notify this court so that it can determine whether there is any need for further proceedings or relief,” the Friday filing confirmed.
Government lawyers are now set to pursue adding the citizenship question that asks “Are you a Citizen of the United States?” to the 2020 census.
It is possible that the Trump administration will be able to challenge the Court’s original decision; however, the Justice Department would have to come up with “a new rationale” which would start a new cycle of court hearings that could not be completed in time.
Demonstrating that the Trump administration will still follow the Court’s decisions for now, the court filing also noted, “the Department of Commerce and Census Bureau currently are enjoined from printing a census questionnaire that includes a citizenship question.”