Attorney General William Barr Says He Believes Trump Can Add Citizenship Question To Census
Attorney General William Barr told reporters on Monday that he believes President Donald Trump can legally add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling that says otherwise.
Barr said that he and the president had been in regular contact regarding the inclusion, which Trump is determined to get on the census. “I agree with him that the Supreme Court decision was wrong,” said Barr. He added that he believes there is “an opportunity potentially to cure the lack of clarity that was the problem and we might as well take a shot at doing that.”
According to a senior government official, Trump is expected to issue a presidential memorandum to the Commerce Department instructing them to add the citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Many legal scholars doubt that such executive power could overrule the decision of the Supreme Court, making it highly likely that Trump’s actions will result in another drawn-out legal battle.
In a 5-4 ruling last month, the country’s high court announced that the reasons given by the Trump administration for adding the question, to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, were insufficient and “contrived,” and that unless the government provided an adequate explanation for the inclusion the question would not be allowed on the 2020 national survey. The Trump administration had seemed ready to accept the court’s verdict, with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross declaring that the census had gone into print without the controversial addition. A day later, the president posted a surprising tweet which asserted that he was not giving up on the question, forcing his administration to reverse course and renew their efforts to include the question on the census.
The Department of Justice announced on Sunday that it was removing its entire team from the citizenship question suit and was replacing them with new lawyers. This indicates that the DOJ either wanted a fresh take on the question or that career lawyers within the agency were refusing to comply with Trump’s orders.