US census questionnaire drops citizenship question

Supreme Court ruling left door open to reconsider controversial question, but census timetable left little maneuvering room

Following a setback in the Supreme Court, the 2020 U.S. census questionnaire will be printed without a controversial question about citizenship, according to a U.S. Justice Department lawyer.

“We can confirm that the decision has been made to print the 2020 Decennial Census questionnaire without a citizenship question, and the printer has been instructed to begin the printing process,” wrote Kate Bailey in an e-mail published by former White House lawyer Daniel Jacobson on Twitter.

Critics of the proposed question charged it was intentionally meant to under-count Democratic-leaning districts, especially Hispanics, a claim bolstered by last month’s release of emails between a census official and a Republican redistricting expert.

“A very sad time for America when the Supreme Court of the United States won’t allow a question of ‘Is this person a Citizen of the United States?’ to be asked on the 2020 Census!” tweeted U.S. President Donald Trump, who supports the new question, but has fared badly among Hispanic voters.

Trump added that he asked the Commerce and Justice departments to do whatever is necessary to bring the “most vital of questions” to a “successful conclusion.”

After last week’s Supreme Court ruling disallowing the citizenship question, but leaving a back door to re-litigate the issue, Trump on Monday threatened to delay the census, saying that it is “very important” to find out “if somebody is a citizen as opposed to an illegal.”

But the ruling left little time to reconsider the question, as the census has a mandated timetable.

According to the Census Act, the headcount should be done “as of the first day of April” in the designated year.

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