President Trump told reporters on Friday that he is considering an executive order to ensure a citizenship question is included on the U.S. census.
Trump told reporters on the White House lawn that he has four or five options and is "thinking about" an executive order. He also said his administration could begin printing the 2020 census and later include the question as part of an addendum.
“We’re thinking about doing that, it’s one of the ways,” Trump told reporters before departing the White House for his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., noting that administration officials are “doing very well” on the issue.
"You need it for many reasons. Number one, you need it for Congress, for districting. You need it for appropriations: Where are the funds going, how many people are there, are they citizens, are they not citizens? You need it for many reasons,” Trump said.
He also weighed in on the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the citizenship question, specifically addressing Chief Justice John Roberts's decision to side with liberal justices in ruling against the administration.
“I have a lot of respect for Justice Roberts — but he didn’t like it, but he did say come back,” Trump said. “We could start the printing now and maybe do an addendum after we get a positive decision.”
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last week to block the citizenship question from appearing on the 2020 census for now, saying the administration’s argument that the question is needed to enforce a federal voting rights law didn’t line up with the evidence provided in the case. The high court directed the administration to come up with a new legal rationale for adding the question.
Initially, it seemed that the administration had given up on the idea of including the query.
But Trump tweeted on Wednesday and Thursday that he intended to find a way to include the question on the census.
Trump’s remarks on Friday followed reports that he was mulling an executive order to add the controversial question to the census after the Supreme Court’s ruling dealt the administration a significant setback.
It is unclear whether Trump would be able to successfully use an executive order to add the citizenship question. Such a move is certain to trigger another round of legal challenges.
Officials with the Justice and Commerce departments have been working since Wednesday to find new ways to legally rationalize the inclusion of the citizenship question on the census in the wake of Trump’s tweets, after previously saying the administration would print the 2020 census without the question.
Meanwhile, Justice Department lawyers told a federal judge in Maryland Friday afternoon that the administration is reevaluating "all available options" for adding the citizenship question to the census. The filing does not make specific mention of an executive order, nor does it provide a timeline for when the administration could announce a new legal rationale behind the query.
“In the event the Commerce Department adopts a new rationale for including the citizenship question on the 2020 Decennial Census consistent with the decisions of the Supreme Court, the Government will immediately notify this Court so that it can determine whether there is any need for further proceedings or relief,” Justice Department attorneys wrote.
Judge George Hazel, an Obama appointee in Maryland, is reviewing whether there is discriminatory intent behind the question’s addition to the census, a different legal question than that addressed by the Supreme Court.
Critics argue that adding the question could result in minorities being undercounted and impact congressional redistricting in ways that favor Republicans.