Trump Floats Census Delay After Supreme Court Ruling On Citizenship Question

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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President Donald Trump proposed delaying the decennial census after the Supreme Court delivered a mixed decision Thursday mandating more fact-finding in the census citizenship question case.

In a pair of tweets following the Thursday morning decision, the president suggested that he would delay the census a constitutionally-mandatory function that must be conducted every ten years until the courts definitively resolve the dispute.

“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 tweeted. “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,” Trump added. “Only in America!”

The census serves as a basis for awarding federal funds and dividing seats in Congress among the states.  (RELATED: The Supreme Court Says Judges Can’t Police Partisan Gerrymanders)

The Department of Justice gave no hint as to its plans for the census litigation.

“We are disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision today,” a Department spokesperson said. “The Department of Justice will continue to defend this administration’s lawful exercises of executive power.”

Demonstrators gather in front of the Supreme Court after the census decision was handed down on June 27, 2019. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Demonstrators gather in front of the Supreme Court after the census decision was handed down on June 27, 2019. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Chief Justice John Roberts and the Court’s liberal bloc concluded that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross concealed the real reason he added a citizenship question to the census form. The Commerce Department supervises the Census Bureau.

“Accepting contrived reasons would defeat the purpose of the enterprise,” the chief justice wrote. “If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case.”

However, the Court rejected arguments that a citizenship question cannot lawfully be included on the census form. After Thursday’s decision, the government will have an opportunity to present new and legitimate reasons for including the citizenship question, though whether that is possible as a matter of timing is unclear. Government lawyers have represented that the census forms must be completed by the end of June.

The president is currently in Japan for the G-20 conference.

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