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Trump Administration Misses Deadline It Set to Begin Printing 2020 Census


Following the Supreme Court’s decision denying an attempt to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census, the Trump Administration missed the deadline it set to begin printing the forms and mailers required to conduct the constitutionally mandated census.

2020 census materials had not yet been officially approved for printing by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget as of Tuesday morning, according to NPR. Attorneys for the Department of Justice indicated that missing the Monday deadline was intentional, telling a federal judge that day that the administration remains uncertain as to whether it will choose to pursue other avenues of litigation that would ensure the desired citizenship question is added.

This is a change from the administration’s stance over the last few months which claimed that the deadline was of urgent importance. In documents filed in federal court, the Department of Justice previously claimed that the “Census Bureau must finalize the census forms by the end of June 2019 to print them on time for the 2020 decennial census.”

Census officials have testified, however, that the administration does not necessarily need to finalize the forms until the end of October.

The report comes on the heels of last week’s much anticipated Supreme Court ruling, in which the justices decided that a lower court was warranted in preventing the administration from adding the contested citizenship question. The court’s ruling drew the immediate ire of President Donald Trump, who publicly supported delaying the census until the citizenship question is added.

“Seems totally ridiculous that our government, and indeed Country, cannot ask a basic question of Citizenship in a very expensive, detailed and important Census, in this case for 2020,” Trump tweeted after the Supreme Court decision went public. “I have asked the lawyers if they can delay the Census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter. Can anyone really believe that as a great Country, we are not able the ask whether or not someone is a Citizen. Only in America!”

When asked about the census again on Monday, Trump told reporters he was looking “very strongly” into delaying the census process.

“We’re looking at that,” Trump said. “So you can ask other things, but you can’t ask whether or not somebody is a citizen? So we are trying to do that. We’re looking at that very strongly.”

“I think it’s very important to find out if somebody is a citizen as opposed to an illegal,” he added.

Former Census Bureau Director John Thompson told NPR on Monday that delaying the census printing poses “the biggest risk right now.”

“The longer you delay, the more you’re going to have to condense the schedule and the more expensive it’s going to be and the greater the chance for errors to crop up,” Thompson said.

U.S. District Judge George Hazel scheduled a hearing on Tuesday regarding an issue connected to the census. Challengers of the census filed documents on June 14 in Hazel‘s court, writing that the discovery in late May of new documents from the estate of recently deceased Republican operative Thomas Hofeller “eliminate[d] any colorable doubt about the link between Hofeller and government employees involved in the citizenship question approval process.” Judge Hazel agreed that the Hofeller evidence “potentially connects the dots between a discriminatory purpose–diluting Hispanics’ political power–and Secretary [Wilbur] Ross’s decision.”

As Law&Crime previously reported, Hofeller notoriously specialized in gerrymandering maps to ensure Republican advantages. The documents purportedly showed that Hofeller specifically orchestrated the addition of the citizenship census question to achieve similar advantages. The DOJ dismissed this evidence as an eleventh-hour “conspiracy theory.”

[image via SAUL LOEB_AFP_Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.