ACLU asks judge to forbid Trump from restoring citizenship question to census

ACLU asks judge to forbid Trump from restoring citizenship question to census

In the court filing that the judge required by Friday, Justice Department attorneys said that they are looking at other ways to add the citizenship question - "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" after the Supreme Court's rejection of their stated reason for the citizenship question last month.

The announcement came on Friday hours after President Donald Trump said he is "very seriously" considering an executive order to get the question on the form, despite a Supreme Court ruling blocking his administration from adding it.

Hazel, who had asked for a final decision from the government by Friday afternoon on whether it meant to press forward, issued an order saying the case will now move ahead.

Pro-democracy advocates have warned that asking a question on citizenship in the U.S. census would suppress participation among immigrant communities and disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voters. He also said that "we could start the printing [of census forms] now and maybe do an addendum after we get a positive decision". If Hazel finds discrimination, that could be a separate basis for blocking the citizenship question.

The question carries broad ramifications for funding and political influence, particularly as so-called sanctuary states have actively encouraged illegal immigrants to flout federal immigration policies and law-enforcement efforts.


The new filing is just the latest twist in Mr. Trump's determination to ask about citizenship. Such a move could require the administration to provide a new justification for the addition of the question, following a Supreme Court ruling requiring a new rationale.

Trump tweeted early Thursday that officials were working on the Independence Day holiday to resolve the issue ahead of a 2 p.m. ET Friday court deadline to explain what the government plans to do.

A White House spokesman said Thursday that officials are examining "every option" available to add the query to the decennial population survey.

In order to obtain expedited consideration before the Supreme Court, the administration had said it had a June 30 deadline to resolve the issue.

Hazel on Friday gave the plaintiffs in the Maryland claim until August 19 to gather more evidence and take testimony from administration officials.


Documents created by Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller, who died a year ago, showed he was instrumental behind the scenes in instigating the addition of the question.

Democrats said the rational remains clear - to weaken their electoral districts. "For decades, black Los Angeles residents were demographically squeezed out of local government by a growing Hispanic population of mixed citizenship", wrote J. Christian Adams, president and general counsel for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, in an op-ed for The Hill. Counting only voting-eligible citizens would be a boon to Republicans in elections.

"We have four or five ways we can do it", Trump told reporters.

Trump and his supporters say it makes sense to know how many non-citizens are living in the country. His hard-line policies on immigration have punctuated his presidency and 2020 re-election campaign.

The citizenship question can wait until better arguments are found.


Critics have called the citizenship question a Republican ploy to scare immigrants into not participating and engineer a population under-count in Democratic-leaning areas with high immigrant populations. Three different federal judges blocked the administration before the Supreme Court intervened. On Tuesday, the Commerce and Justice departments announced the fight was over and the forms were being sent to the printer without the question.

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