Trump threatens to delay the Census — but his DOJ spent weeks telling the Supreme Court he can't: CNN
President Donald Trump (MSNBC)

Last week, the Supreme Court threw President Donald Trump's plan to rig the 2020 Census into chaos by temporarily blocking the administration from including a citizenship question. The justices left open the possibility that the question would be constitutional, if the administration can convince a lower court they have a reason for the change that is not "contrived" — although with census forms needing to be printed within weeks, Trump has almost no time to do this.

Faced with this obstacle, Trump told reporters on Monday that he is now "looking at" just delaying the census altogether until he can push the case through federal court. The problem is that delaying the census is unconstitutional — and it's not just liberals who say so. As CNN's Pamela Brown noted, Trump's own Justice Department has spent weeks telling the Supreme Court there is no legal way to delay the census.

"The president doubled down on his belief that it's important to find out if someone is a citizen," Brown told Wolf Blitzer of "The Situation Room." "But, Wolf, it's unclear how exactly it would work in terms of delaying the census. The Constitution requires a census every ten years. And the president's own DOJ has been arguing for weeks to the court that you can't delay the census."

The census is a massively important government undertaking, and the count is used to determine everything from how many congressional districts each state gets, to how much federal funding is appropriated for roads, schools, and hospitals, to where businesses can open new offices and create jobs. Experts have broadly warned that asking about citizenship — which can already be estimated using other methods — will result in fewer people responding to the census, which would mean states and communities that skew toward minorities and Democrats could lose representation and funding.

The administration initially claimed that the citizenship question is necessary to enforce the Voting Rights Act. But leaked communications, as well as the files from a deceased GOP operative's laptop, suggest that the administration deliberately wants to cause an undercount to shift more voting power to white, Republican voters. These revelations ultimately persuaded the Supreme Court to put the brakes on the scheme.

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