President Donald Trump says he wants to delay the 2020 census after the Supreme Court blocked his administration's attempts to add a question that asks about a person's citizenship status in a 5-4 ruling.
"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 wrote on Twitter shortly after SCOTUS announced its decision. "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!"
The court ruled on Thursday that the administration's explanation for wanting to add the question to the 2020 census was insufficient, and sent the case back to lower courts for further consideration.
According to the majority opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts: “—the sole stated reason—seems to have been contrived. We are presented, in other words, with an explanation for agency action that is incongruent with what the record reveals about the agency’s priorities and decision-making process.”
"In these unusual circumstances, the District Court was warranted in remanding to the agency, and we affirm that disposition," Roberts wrote.
The court's decision means the Trump administration may not have enough time to add the question to the census before it's printed at the end of the month.
Critics say the question is improper and would result in an undercount of residents, like immigrants, who may not want to respond and be counted in the census. That would result in lower official population numbers, which are used to apportion congressional seats and federal funding. Experts at the Census Bureau estimate that including the citizenship question would lead to an undercount of up to 6.5 million people - especially in urban or areas with high immigrant populations.
Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution requires the federal government to conduct a census every ten years, which has been completed ever since the first census was taken in 1790 under Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.
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