Plaintiffs ask court to block Trump efforts to add citizenship question to census

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Department of Commerce over the 2020 census are asking a federal court to block the Trump administration from delaying the printing of census forms or changing them to include a citizenship question. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the motion Friday with the state of New York and other groups seeking to block the citizenship question from being added.

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The Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question last week, ruling the administration’s argument that the query is necessary to enforce the Voting Rights Act was unsatisfactory. However, Justice Department lawyers told a federal judge Friday that the Trump administration is reviewing “all available options” for adding the question.

And President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE announced that he is considering an executive order that would allow the government to inquire about a respondent’s citizenship. 

“The Trump administration repeatedly argued the census forms could not be altered after June 30. They’ve now changed their tune because the Supreme Court ruled against them. They can’t have it both ways. Trump’s lawlessness will not go unanswered,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement.

The administration had said it has a deadline of June 30 to begin printing census materials, though Trump last week said he may seek to temporarily delay the census to continue fighting for the citizenship question.

“In addition to deceiving the judiciary and the public and putting the success of the 2020 Census in jeopardy, Defendants’ efforts to prolong uncertainty and drag out this matter are sowing confusion and exacerbating fear among immigrant communities, and directly injuring the Plaintiffs’ efforts to mobilize participation in the Census,” the ACLU wrote in its filing

The census will help determine the number of congressional seats and electoral votes that each state gets, making it critical to how votes will be counted in the decade after it is taken. Critics have panned the citizenship question as an effort to undercount immigrant communities and possibly reduce their resources and representation in Congress.

After the administration initially said it would forego the citizenship inquiry following the Supreme Court’s decision, Trump doubled down on the question, saying it was necessary.

“So important for our Country that the very simple and basic ‘Are you a Citizen of the United States?’ question be allowed to be asked in the 2020 Census. Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice are working very hard on this, even on the 4th of July!” Trump tweeted Thursday.

Updated at 8:06 p.m.