The Commerce Department pushed to add a citizenship question to the census, but quickly faced legal challenges, leaving the fate of the question uncertain. Two federal judges have ruled that the question must be removed from the 2020 Census, and the issue is now in the Supreme Court’s hands.
The court is due to rule on the constitutionality of the question by early summer, but the clock is ticking for Census officials to prepare the critical survey on schedule.
“We have film that will be prepared for our printer for either decision that they make,” Associate Census Director Al Fontenot told reporters, according to CNN.
“For our electronic side of the Census, we have a plan where we have a switch that says answer the question, ask the question, don’t ask the question,” Fontenot said. “Already budgeted, already completed the work necessary to answer either way the decision comes down.”
Fontenot told reporters that the government’s printer requested a July 1 deadline to get the paper forms printed.
Voting rights advocates strongly oppose the inclusion of the question, claiming it will depress response rates, particularly in immigrant communities. Census figures are used to allocate tens of billions of dollars in federal resources, as well as how state legislative and congressional districts are drawn.
Despite the legal setbacks so far, the Trump administration remains intent on the citizenship question’s inclusion.
“Can you believe that the Radical Left Democrats want to do our new and very important Census Report without the all important Citizenship Question,” President Trump tweeted Monday, exactly one year before 2020 Census day. “Report would be meaningless and a waste of the $Billions (ridiculous) that it costs to put together!”