Schatz continues fight against Census citizenship question
WASHINGTON - President Trump is still hoping to delay the 2020 census over the administration’s proposed citizenship question despite failing to meet a crucial deadline Monday.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) was among the critics of the administration’s proposed citizenship question that – for now – will not appear on that Census form.
In a letter first released in May, Schatz and more than a dozen Senate Democrats argue the census is strictly a head count of who’s in the country. The Trump administration argues the citizenship question will enforce the Voting Rights Act.
The issued ramped up last week when the Supreme Court ruled on this question. The majority opinion claimed the Trump administration’s use of the Voting Rights Act to defend the citizenship question “seems to have been contrived,” essentially saying the administration can add that question, but they didn’t explain themselves well enough. The high court is now asking the Commerce Dept. to provide more explanation on why this question should be added, and is sending the case back to the lower courts.
For now, the question is off the 2020 Census, which is conducted every ten years. The SCOTUS ruling is considered a win for Democrats, but the President sees it as only a temporary loss. He’s urging the U.S. Commerce Dept. to delay production of the 1.5 billion paper census mailings – which was supposed to start on Monday.
“You go through all of this detail, but you’re not allowed to ask whether or not somebody is a citizen?” Trump asked Monday during an interview at the White House. “You can ask other things, but you can’t ask whether somebody is a citizen? So we’re trying to do that. We’re looking at that very strongly.”
Schatz has been fighting to remove the question for a while, calling on the Justice and Commerce departments to launch internal investigations into the Trump administration’s reasoning for that question.
In the letter, Schatz and the group of 13 U.S. Senators claim this would undercount minority communities, and politicize the 2020 Census.
“The Constitution calls for counting every individual in the country. Not every citizen in the country, not every person of a certain color or background,” Schatz told KITV 4 Island News in June. “Every person who resides in the United States has to be counted in that process. Right now, I do not have confidence that (Commerce) Secretary (Wilbur) Ross is up to the job.”
Attorneys for the Justice Department reportedly have not made a final decision about whether or not to try this case again in the courts.
UPDATE: 11:26a.m. HT: The Trump administration announced late Tuesday afternoon that the 2020 Census would begin printing without the citizenship question.
"This is an enormous victory for the rule of law and the Constitution," Schatz said in a statement. "We still have to work to do to ensure a complete count, but this helps us to make sure that the government conducts this count in a good faith and in compliance with the law."