The dispute over whether to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census is heating up.
A top civil attorney told Attorney General William Barr that multiple people on the team preferred not to continue with the case. But a US District judge ruled it too late for the Justice Department to replace the nine lawyers.
President Donald Trump tweeted about the judge's decision, writing, "So now the Obama appointed judge on the census case - Are you a citizen of the United States?- won't let the Justice Department use the lawyers that it wants to use. Could this be a first?"
Meanwhile, US Attorney General William Barr says he sees a way to legally require census respondents to declare whether or not they are citizens.
"I've been in constant discussions with the president ever since the Supreme Court decision came down. And I think over the next day or two you'll see what approach we're taking. I think it does provide a pathway for getting the question on the census," Barr said.
President Trump has been "very seriously" considering an executive order to try to force the inclusion of a citizenship question as part of the 2020 Census.
"It's one of the ways that we're thinking about doing it, very seriously," he said, despite the fact that the government has already begun the process of printing the census questionnaire without that question.
The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE! We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2019
Trump's administration has faced numerous roadblocks to adding the question, including the Supreme Court's ruling that blocked its inclusion, at least temporarily.
But Trump has insisted his administration push forward, suggesting that officials might be able to add a citizenship addendum to the questionnaire after it's already printed.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2019
The administration says the question would help enforce the Voting Rights Act by protecting minorities' right to vote.
But Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) blasted the president over his actions on the census question.
"But this is about keeping – you know his hat, Make America white again? – They want to make sure that people, certain people, are counted. It's really disgraceful and it's not what our founders had in mind," she added.
Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues that the full House of Representatives will be moving ahead with a vote to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress after the administration failed to comply with subpoenas on the census question.
The Hill reports that Barr has not provided specific details on how the citizenship question will be added to the census.
Opponents of the citizenship question say it would discourage immigrant participation, resulting in inaccurate figures for a count that determines the distribution of some $675 billion in federal spending, as well as how many congressional districts each state gets.
“I agree with the President, the Supreme Court got it wrong. There should be a question about Citizenship on the Census. A.G. Barr sees a pathway to add the Citizenship Question.” Steve Doocy @foxandfriends Working hard on something that should be so easy. People are fed up!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2019