The Justice Department says the 2020 Census is moving ahead without a question about citizenship.
Kristen Clarke, an attorney for a civil rights group that helped fight the addition of the question, said Tuesday evening that Trump administration attorneys notified parties in lawsuits that the printing of the hundreds of millions of documents for the 2020 counts would be starting soon.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco has confirmed there would be "no citizenship question on 2020 census."
The White House didn't immediately comment on the decision. President Donald Trump has decried last week's Supreme Court ruling saying the question was sought under a false pretext.
Spokespeople for the U.S. Census Bureau have not responded to emails or phone calls seeking comment.
The decision on whether the Justice Department would print the Census on time had been in limbo; President Donald Trump had sought to delay printing in the wake of the ruling.
Trump had said on Twitter after the decision that he asked lawyers if they can "delay the Census, no matter how long" until the "United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision" on the issue. Under federal law the census must begin on April 1, 2020. A former director of the Census Bureau said he believed Congress would have to change the law for the count to be delayed.
The issue of whether to add the citizenship question to the census is a politically charged one. Democratic cities and states who oppose adding it argue that they'd get less federal money and fewer representatives in Congress if the question is asked because it would discourage the participation of minorities, primarily Hispanics, who tend to support Democrats.
During arguments in the case at the Supreme Court in April it seemed as though the Trump administration would win because Chief Justice John Roberts and other conservatives appointed by Republican presidents did not appear to see anything wrong with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's decision to add the question. Ultimately, however, Roberts joined the court's four more liberal members in saying the administration's current justification for the question "seems to have been contrived."
The Trump administration had said the question was being added to aid in enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters' access to the ballot box. But the Justice Department had never previously sought a citizenship question in the 54-year history of the landmark voting rights law.
"Altogether, the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the secretary gave for his decision," Roberts wrote.
The Census Bureau's own experts predicted that millions of Hispanics and immigrants would go uncounted if the census asked everyone if he or she is an American citizen. And immigrant advocacy organizations and Democratic-led states, cities and counties that challenged the question's addition argued the question would make people with noncitizens in their households less likely to fill out their census forms.
In his opinion, Roberts wrote that evidence showed that Ross "was determined to reinstate a citizenship question from the time he entered office." The Commerce Department oversees the Census Bureau.
Roberts added that there is "a significant mismatch between the decision the secretary made and the rationale he provided." The court sent the issue of adding the citizenship question back to administration officials.
Evidence uncovered since the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case supports claims that the citizenship question is part of a broader Republican effort to accrue political power at the expense of minorities, the challengers say.
The Constitution requires a census count every ten years. A question about citizenship had once been common, but it has not been widely asked since 1950. At the moment, the question is part of a separate detailed annual sample of a small chunk of the population, the American Community Survey.
The Supreme Court ordered the case back to lower courts, but the Census Bureau had a deadline of this week to get the forms sent to the printers in order to complete the constitutionally-mandated count.
After the news broke, New York Attorney General Letitia James taunted the president after he attacked her in a tweet earlier in the morning:
New York had joined the lawsuit seeking to block the citizenship question.
In a statement, Ross told us, "I respect the Supreme Court decision but strongly disagree with its ruling regarding my decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question. My focus, and that of the Bureau and the entire Department is to conduct a complete and accurate census."
Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.