Justice Department to ask the Supreme Court for a review of Trump administration’s 2020 census citizenship question

By Kate Smith

/ CBS News

Judge blocks citizenship question on census

The Department of Justice said it will ask the Supreme Court of the United States to immediately review a proposed 2020 census question which would ask respondents whether or not they are a U.S. citizen, according to a legal filing. The question has already been struck down by a federal judge in New York.

The controversial question has prompted dozens of lawsuits, including New York's, with critics claiming that asking "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" would depress turnout among immigrants.

"Secretary Ross's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census — even if it did not violate the Constitution itself — was unlawful for a multitude of independent reasons and must be set aside," Judge Jess Furman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote in a court filing striking down the question.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the census, announced he would reinstate the question, claiming that it was in response to the Justice Department's request for better citizenship data. But opponents say that the proposal would lead to low response rates among immigrants and could distort congressional apportionment to favor Republicans. As of 2016, the most recent year available, there were about 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center. That was the lowest number in more than a decade.

Earlier this week, Ross agreed to testify before Congress regarding the census 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," Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said in a written statement.

First published on January 24, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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