Trump drops census question, announces new option to count citizens

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court

President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to use an executive order on Thursday to bypass an ongoing legal battle and add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census.

The administration's attempts to add the question had been blocked in the courts because of challenges from some USA states and civil rights groups.

An executive order by Trump would not, by itself, override court rulings blocking the question, but such a move could give administration lawyers a new basis to try to convince federal courts the question could be included.

The new team, named in court papers, includes Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Morrell, a former Trump White House lawyer and law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas; Christopher Bates, who previously worked for Republican Sen.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump would do everything within his legal authority to determine and make public who is in the United States legally and who is not.

Pelosi went on to call the citizenship question "disgraceful". "[Trump's] effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census is unlawful".

In Maryland, a federal judge is now reconsidering discrimination and conspiracy allegations against the question, and in NY, another judge is reviewing an alleged cover-up of the administration's real reason for wanting the question.

Earlier this week, the department sought to replace the team of lawyers assigned to the effort, after at least some career attorneys on the case grew frustrated with the Trump administration's sudden shift in position on whether it could keep fighting. He also reaffirmed the Supreme Court's finding that the question is legal. The announcement, he said, will be focused on the census and citizenship.

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The American Community Survey, which polls 3.5 million US households every year, already includes questions about respondents' citizenship, so it is unclear what Trump has in mind.

The Census Bureau finalized questions for the 2010 form in March 2008, the agency's records show.

The court's decision does leave open the possibility for the administration to make another case for the question.

But an Obama-appointed judge in NY said they couldn't right now.

Trump and his administration's efforts to add a question to the nation's once-a-decade population survey have become embroiled in a legal fight not only over plaintiffs' opposition but also over the Department of Justice's handling of the cases.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in an interview on Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends" Thursday morning that he's expecting Trump to announce an executive order, and said he thinks "it's a good move".

The new team came about after a top Justice Department civil attorney who was leading the litigation effort told Attorney General William Barr that multiple people on the team preferred not to continue, Barr told The Associated Press on Monday.

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