In a court filing released on Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt indicated that the Department of Justice will explore new ways to ask whether responders to the 2020 census are citizens of the US.
The Supreme Court ruled on the citizenship question last week. It left in place a lower court’s decision to block the question, explaining that while the government is not inherently barred from including a citizenship question, the government failed to give a reasonable explanation for the inclusion of the question.
In the filing released today, Assistant Attorney General Hunt said that “We at the Department of Justice have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision, that would allow us to include the citizenship question on the census.”
Yesterday, the Department of Justice stated in an email to the plaintiffs of the Supreme Court case that “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.” President Donald Trump denied this in a tweet earlier dismissing it as “Fake News” and declaring that the government will be moving forward with a citizenship question “as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.”
This controversy comes after months of court battles over whether the government could include the citizenship question on the census. President Trump has been advocating for the inclusion of the citizenship question since 2018 as part of his broader immigration policy. Critics of the citizenship question have argued that including such a question will likely decrease responses to the census, which would negatively impact the accuracy of the data. Some critics argue that this will especially impact Latin American communities whose members might fear that the data will be used against them by law enforcement agencies, such as ICE.
The story will continue to develop as the Census questionnaire is printed.