Bill Barr explains why Trump backed down on fight over census citizenship question

July 12, 2019

Although he asserted including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census would be perfectly legal, Attorney General William Barr said that President Donald Trump backed down on his fight because he simply didn’t have enough time to finish litigating the matter without disrupting the census itself, The Daily Caller reported

“The problem is that any new decision would be subject to immediate challenge as a new claim in the three ongoing district court cases,” Barr said Thursday. “In addition, there are injunctions currently in place that forbid adding the question. There is simply no way to litigate these issues and obtain relief from the current injunctions in time to implement any new decision without jeopardizing our ability to carry out the census itself, which we are not going to do.”

The census is coming

The attorney general said Thursday that the Supreme Court did not rule that a census question about citizenship was unconstitutional, but only that the Trump administration’s reason for doing so was “contrived.” USA Today reports:

In its June 27 ruling, the Supreme Court said the administration had not justified its support for a citizenship question, and it sent the matter back to the Commerce Department.

According to Barr, the problem is fixable — just not in the time frame needed for the 2020 Census.

“Put simply, the impediment was logistical, not legal. We simply cannot complete the litigation in time to carry out the census,” Barr said.

The 2020 Census forms needed to go to print by July 1, government lawyers asserted. That is why the Supreme Court ruled in an expedited manner on the case.

Getting the data

There had been speculation that Trump would use an executive order to put the citizenship question on the census in defiance of the Supreme Court. Others speculated that Trump might delay the census until the matter could be resolved in the courts.

In the end, Trump is hoping to get access to citizenship data without actually putting the question on the census. On Thursday, the president ordered the Department of Commerce, which conducts the census, to obtain citizenship data from other government agencies.

Experts have said that it is possible to get citizenship data for about 90% of U.S. residents this way. That leaves about 25 million adults of voting age unaccounted for, but after the Supreme Court ruling, this may be the only immediate option.

Trump said in his Thursday remarks that it is “vital” to know how many citizens and non-citizens are residing in the U.S.

“It is essential that we have a clear breakdown of the number of citizens and non-citizens that make up the U.S. populations. Imperative,” Trump said. “Knowing this information is vital to formulating sound public policy, whether the issue is health care, education, civil rights, or immigration. We must have a reliable count of how many citizens, non-citizens, and illegal aliens are in our country.”

Looks like President Trump will again be getting his way — one way or another.


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Jen Krausz

Jen Krausz is a Conservative Institute staff writer. A lifelong member of the Republican Party, she has an English degree from a liberal arts college and has contributed to numerous publications including Newsmax.