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Justice Department to ask Supreme Court to review 2020 Census question on citizenship

Judge blocks citizenship question on census

The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to rule on the inclusion of a question about citizenship in the 2020 census, bypassing a Court of Appeals and seeking a final ruling by the end of June.

A federal district judge last week blocked the administration from asking about citizenship on the upcoming census. On Tuesday, Solicitor General Noel Francisco said in court papers that the rare and fast turnaround is necessary if census questionnaires are to be printed in time.

It's been 30 years since the court took on an issue without waiting for a federal appeals court to weigh in. Francisco says the justices should hear arguments in April or a special session in May. The Census Bureau has attempted to place a question on the 2020 Census that would ask respondents whether they are citizens, a move decried by immigration rights activists. The citizenship question was last asked on the 1950 Census. 

A total of 18 states, the District of Columbia, and 15 large cities or counties, and immigrant rights groups have sued the Commerce Department, claiming the question could discourage immigrants from participation in the community. 

Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross has been called on to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee about the decision to include the question. Ross agreed to testify before Congress regarding the question. On March 14 the House Committee on Oversight and Reform plans to hold a hearing to discuss the controversial question.

"Committee Members expect Secretary Ross to provide complete and truthful answers to a wide range of questions, including questions regarding the ongoing preparations for the census, the addition of a citizenship question, and other topics," Cummings said in a written statement.

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The citizenship question the Census Bureau hopes to ask in 2020 Commerce Department

The Census Bureau is among the federal entities affected by the ongoing partial government shutdown, which has now lasted for more than a month. Most of the bureau's full-time employees have been furloughed. 

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