Yeah, we spoke too soon about the Census citizenship question

It’s maximum chaos time.

The Justice Department affirmed Friday that it still is pursuing a path for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, according to a filing in federal court in Maryland.

The filing followed statements earlier in the day from President Trump in which he said he is “thinking of” issuing an executive order to add the controversial question.

Government lawyers said in their filing Friday that the Justice and Commerce Departments had been “instructed to examine whether there is a path forward” for the question and that if one was found they would file a motion in the U.S. Supreme Court to try to get the question on the survey to be sent to every U.S. household.

Attorneys for the government and challengers to the addition of the question faced a 2 p.m. deadline set by U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel to lay out their plans.

Hazel said earlier this week that if the government stuck with a plan to try to add the question, he would move ahead on a case before him probing whether the government has discriminatory intent in wanting to ask about citizenship.

The Justice Department lawyers argued in Friday’s filing that there was no need to start producing information in that case since for now courts have barred the government from adding the question. But the government also agreed to follow a schedule to move ahead if that was laid out.

The government has begun printing the census forms without the question, and that process will continue, administration officials said.


Census officials and lawyers at the Justice and Commerce departments scrapped holiday plans and spent Independence Day seeking new legal rationales for a citizenship question that critics say could lead to a steep undercount of immigrants, which could limit federal funding to some communities and skew congressional redistricting to favor Republicans.

“It’s kind of shocking that they still don’t know what they’re doing,” Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said. MALDEF is representing some of the plaintiffs in the case in Maryland. “We’re in this posture because they don’t know what the real plan is.”

See here for the background. This all began with some Trump tweets, because that’s the hellscape we now inhabit. Literally no one knows what will happen next – the judge even remarked that the Justice Department lead attorney “didn’t speak for his client” – so try some cleansing breaths and do a little binge-watching, to stay calm. TPM, Daily Kos, Think Progress, Mother Jones, and Slate have more.

UPDATE: And then there’s this.

The American Civil Liberties Union and partners today asked a federal court in New York to block the Trump administration from taking any action that would delay the printing of 2020 census forms or change the forms to include the citizenship question.

They have an oral argument date of July 23. Note that this is in the New York court. The hearing yesterday was in the Maryland court. Multiple lawsuits, remember? So there are multiple fronts on which to fight.

UPDATE: And discovery will begin in the Maryland case.

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32 Responses to Yeah, we spoke too soon about the Census citizenship question

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    The Empire Strikes Back!

  2. David Fagan says:

    Facts are, Twitter, and formats like it, are becoming the choice ways of communication. Newspapers are becoming even more obsolete, and their website format fights for internet traffic. Those that grew up before the internet, and observed its formation, may discount Twitter (myself included) but have to realize it’s importance and legitimacy. Newspapers had their day in the technological spotlight, 100 years ago, and was respected as the primary communication. Now print format and early internet formats are giving way. This site is a good example. You may see 20 comments on a given subject by 5 people, but you never see 100, 1000, or 10,000. Every politician who is not embracing the format is not utilizing every opportunity.

  3. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    I question whether the census takes place next year. Only problem for the GOP in Texas is that the GOP needs to regerrymander to have much hope of hanging on to their new current set of incumbents.

    No census, no reapportionment either. That would be a disaster for the Texas GOP in Congressional races. Up to 10 GOP seats are in trouble in Texas next year alone.

    So basically the impact of a delayed census will help Republicans in the state legislatures in WI, FL, MI, and NC, but hurt them badly in TX. But remember, the Dems already have the House and none of this will significantly help the GOP in the electoral college or the US Senate. If anything, it hurts them. It does help them retain some state legislative bodies.

    The other impact of Trump delaying the census is that the 2020 census might take place in 2021 during a Democratic administration.

  4. David Fagan says:

    The census dictates the number of representatives eligible in the House of Representatives. If non citizens influence the number of representatives for a given state, but are not allowed to vote for these representatives, eventually the question of who is eligible to vote for these representatives would come into question. So, ultimately:

    Who should be eligible to vote in U.S. elections?


    Should non citizens, who would contribute (through this Census) the determination of the number of Representatives in the House of Representatives be allowed to vote for these representatives even though they are not citizens?


    Is this subject never going to be an issue in the future?

  5. JinHOU says:

    The census counts children and felons that aren’t eligible to vote. Counting people that aren’t citizens is what the founding fathers wanted.

  6. Paul Kubosh says:

    I will be honest with you. I don’t understand why asking the question “Are you a U.S.Citizen” is such a big deal? Am I a racist for saying that, Manny, where are you?

  7. Jules says:

    Paul, you don’t need Manny, check out the first comment, “The Empire Strikes Back!”.

    From Wikipedia: “Star Wars creator George Lucas sought to make the Galactic Empire aesthetically and thematically similar to Nazi Germany and to appear to be fascist.”

    Are Nazis racist?

  8. Manny says:

    The question itself is not racists, it is what the racists like Bill and the other person that has been chiming in, want to use the question for.

    But the idiots that can’t understand, but keep stating if they can’t vote, well children born in the USA under 18 can’t vote. I guess we should not count them for the census either. Permanent Residents can’t vote either, maybe we should not count them either.

    Or maybe the racist and bigots may allow the children and permanent residents to be counted as 3/5th of a person?

    In my world anyone that supports a racist and bigot, that would be the Russian Cheeto is a racist.

  9. Manny says:

    One more thing Paul, One of my sons, is autistic and therefore unable to vote, so I guess he should not count for the census either. There are many Americans like him, Ronald Reagan in his later years would have been disqualified from voting because of his disease, I guess he should not have been counted either?

    I personally find the census very intrusive as to the questions they asked, I have had the misfortune to once have received one of those long forms where they asked everything but what color undies I prefer.

  10. Paul Kubosh says:

    Star Wars analogy went right over my head. So if someone says they are not a U.S. Citizen but fills out the Census does the computer kick them out and not count them? Is that what happens?

  11. Bill Daniels says:

    Jules and Manny:

    Spoiler Alert: This time, the Empire wins! Also, this time the Empire supports God, mom, apple pie, Chevrolet, peace, and the nuclear family. Darth Trump has the ‘resistance’ burning flags on our Independence Day, and shrieking at the sky because Trump gave a very patriotic, pro American speech, interspersed with flyovers from the various birds in our fleet.

    Think about that. He got y’all to protest everything good about America. Epic. Troll. That’s why the Empire will win in 2020.

  12. Jules says:

    Paul, they will count all people who respond regardless. You are supposed to fill out the census regardless.

  13. David Fagan says:

    I’m not filling out the census. Just because there is a question on a piece of paper, doesn’t mean people have to answer it.

    Compare the question of citizenship to the color of someone’s underwear, or other pointless questions, it seems the question of citizenship is more relevant.

    This census is used by a lot of other people, not just the city getting federal dollars.

    I look forward to the day when racism, Nazism, or any other isms do not detract from relevant conversation. I got a term for it – throwing a racism grenade. If a conversation it’s going on that people don’t like, throw the grenade and the whole conversation shifts to race and calling people names, it’s pointless.

  14. Manny says:

    David I am surprised you feel that way because the Russian Cheeto used it to appeal to all the racists in the country.

    So I guess for people like you it is offensive when those that do not agree with you use it. I understand your kind of people.

  15. David Fagan says:

    So, sir

    Who should be eligible to vote in U.S. elections?

  16. Paul Kubosh says:


    So if they fill out the form regardless then what the problem?

  17. Manny says:

    Fagan you are way of topic as what does voting have to do with the census? Even the founding fathers counted slaves, who could not vote. They counted women who could not vote. They counted children who could not vote. In many places only white male property owners could vote.

    I will ignore any more of your illogical questions. I am beginning to wonder if my support for the firefighters was wrong if you are typical of them.

  18. Manny says:

    By the way Fagan, I had kept telling the Turner Campaign I was not sure who if anyone I would support for Mayor, thanks to you, Turner will get my support and the support of as many of family, friends, that I can convince.

  19. David Fagan says:

    1) the census determines the number of representatives in the House

    2) the legislative branch is the law making arm of the government

    3) if people live in a country where they determine how many people make the laws, but cannot vote for those people, it is easy to come to the conclusion they would want to be represented, and to do that they would have to vote, so

    4) Who should be allowed to vote in U.S. elections?

    You’ve brought up a good point, Manny, voting laws have changed over the entire history of this country, so why is this question so irrelevant now?

  20. Jules says:

    Paul, the administration lied about why they wanted the question on the census, you lawyers call this pretextual. We aren’t supposed to have laws and whatnot based in false pretenses. The Supreme Court ruled this, but sent it back to the lower court.

    Wilbur Ross, commerce secretary, gave up when scotus sent it back, due to a deadline of June 30 to print the census. But the current president tweeted they weren’t done fighting yet or whatever he said so now they are looking for a better pretext.

  21. I get all that Jules however whats the problem? People are going to still fill out the census.

  22. Manny says:

    Fagan, let us look at your argument, if valid, then why do some states have two senators while having less voting population than Harris County?

    The number of people, not the number of people that vote, is what matters. What about people that are citizens but not allowed to vote, like felons?

    Like I stated, thanks to you, I will now be supporting Turner, as you seem to be representative of the firefighters, which I supported. Our civic club donates $2,000 a year to firefighters, I am the president of the civic club and we started that when I became president of the Civic Club. We also donate $2,000 to our police storefront. We appreciate our first responders.

  23. Jules says:

    Paul, I wonder why they felt they had to come up with pretextual reasons instead of using the real reasons? Why all the lies? I would think lying to scotus is something you’d put some thought into.

    They did look at a study that showed fewer people would fill out the census if the question were included. Some think this will lead to Texas having fewer Representatives in the House.

  24. David Fagan says:

    Manny, let’s get something straight, I AM NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF, NOR A REPRESENTATIVE OF FIREFIGHTERS, OR THE HOUSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT. It is important for you to understand that. The comments I make are my own and only I am responsible for them, and do NOT represent anyone else but me. Your support of firefighters, or lack thereof, should not be based on this comment section. I am also not going to be intimidated about speaking my mind. Public service does not mean sacrificing the ability to form rational thoughts about the world around you. I’ve said this before, I have the freedom to think, say, and express myself, and I believe I do it in a respectful manner.

    To answer your question, every state is allowed only two senators, it is the division of the legislative branch of government. The legislature is divided into two parts: the Senate, and the House of Representatives. Every state only has two senators, while the House has a number of Representatives based on population. These two branches make up the law making branch. The judicial branch of government interprets the law, while the executive branch executes the law. These are called the three branches of government. They each have separate powers, but also over lapping powers. Feel free to ask any other questions, I appreciate your response.

  25. Bill Daniels says:

    First, the argument that legal immigrants would NOT give their info to the census out of fear is ludicrous. They are here LEGALLY, just like the regulars here. Are YOU afraid of filling out the census? You may not like it or want to do it, but you’re not AFRAID to do so. Neither are legal immigrants. That argument is a red herring.

    Now, let’s say the question will somehow scare illegal aliens from filling it out. Doubtful, since we see illegal aliens out and proud, in public, protesting. Haven’t we all seen the “undocumented and unafraid” signs? Were they lying then? Are they unafraid to exert foreign influence in our elections by publicly demonstrating in the streets, but somehow a census questionnaire is their kryptonite? Foiled! All we have to do to get illegals back in the shadows is to confront them with a census form! Who knew?

    As to the basic question, let’s just say that the REAL reason is to dissuade all those “undocumented and unafraid” folks from responding in order to keep the areas they live in, like Texas and California, from getting extra congressional representation in the House. Let’s just say it out loud, that’s the reason.

    Good! The government is taxing me, and having illegals represented in Congress is nothing if not taxation without representation. Seems like we had the original Brexit over something very similar.

    Aren’t we all opposed to foreign influence on our government and elections? Yes? Basing congressional seats on where the most illegals live IS foreign influence on our elections. We should ALL be opposed to that, regardless of political party. Example: Instead of people from the Congo, Eritrea, India, China, Mexico and Central America, let’s say the bulk of our illegals were whites from South Africa, from Europe and Russia. Would we be upset about all THOSE illegals having influence on our elections and congressional representation? I bet we would be.

  26. Bill Daniels says:

    Either way the issue is finally settled, we’ve got a year to deport as many people here illegally as possible so they don’t have to be fearful of getting that census form in the mail. Cuccinelli seems to be pretty positive about putting numbers on the board by going after the low hanging fruit, the million illegals that already have final orders of deportation.

    We’ll see how they do.

  27. Bill Daniels says:

    Just a picture of the 2000 ‘long form’ census and 1990 census questionnaire:

    Oh, look, they both ask about citizenship.

  28. Jules says:

    It will be interesting to see what pretext they come up with next. I think Wlibur Ross and the doj people involved in lying should resign/be fired/disbarred.

    Why the lies?

  29. Jules says:

    Acosta needs to go too, today.

  30. Ross says:

    @Bill, that form isn’t filled out by everyone, just a subset of the population. In 2000, 1 in 6 households received the long form. In 1990, the citizenship question only applied to person 1. The biggest issue on the 2020 census is the Administration just added the question without following the rules as required by law. Trump has jumped on this as yet another divisive issue that pumps up his base, and fills his narcissistic ass with pleasure. Otherwise, he wouldn’t give a crap about it.

    Here’s the Census page with copies of the forms going back to the beginning

    Reddit is not a reliable source of information, Links there are automatically suspect.

  31. Jules says:

    Might actually be over now.

  32. Jules says:

    And Acosta is out.

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