Opponents of the citizenship question protested outside the Supreme Court in April. (Asian Americans Advancing Justice)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Commerce refused to enter a joint stipulation with the plaintiffs of Lupe v. Ross et al. as requested by U.S. District Court Judge George J. Hazel.

The government had until 2 p.m. Friday. Although 2020 Census forms are already being printed without the controversial citizenship question and the Supreme Court has ruled that the Trump Administration has not shown a plausible reason for including it, the president has stated that he is considering other ways to get the question added, such as an executive order.

Contradicting his own officials, Trump blasted reports that his administration had abandoned efforts to add the question as “fake.”

Advancing Justice | AAJC (Asian Americans Advancing Justice) and MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) have proceeded with filing around their 5th Amendment (equal protection) and conspiracy claims before the Maryland District Court.

In response to the latest developments, John C. Yang of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC issued the following statement: “This is a case of the coaches admitting defeat while the team’s owner is trying to convince the umpires to change the rules and put more time back on the expired clock for one last Hail Mary. That’s not how the law works.

“The government is trying to buy time to pursue a hopeless strategy. They’re being told not to concede defeat after its public admission that the census form is being printed without the citizenship question. The government does not have a legitimate path for inclusion of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census. It had the chance to set forth a legitimate reason to the U.S. Supreme Court and failed. Now the government is trying to make up new rules. We won’t let that happen.

“The government is trying to sow seeds of confusion in the public even as it prints the 2020 Census form without the citizenship question. We’re on the right side of justice here. The government should stop playing games and start working toward getting the fair and accurate count of every person in this country. Period.”

Hazel had told the parties that they must return to court for one of two results: either the government enters into a formal agreement on a permanent decision not to include a citizenship question on Census 2020, or the plaintiffs move forward with scheduling discovery and further litigation of their claims.

Advancing Justice and MALDEF sued the administration and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in May 2018 on behalf Latino and Asian American individuals, Native Americans, social service nonprofits, state legislative associations, civil rights groups, voting rights organizations, and community partnerships that would be forced to divert resources to combat a potential severe undercount in their respective communities.

“The government told the Supreme Court that a final decision on the inclusion of the citizenship question was necessary before July 1,” said Yang. “The court ruled, and said that the question was inappropriately included. The U.S. Department of Justice has represented that the census forms are going to print without the citizenship question. The government seems to be seeking to shift the goal posts once again. Now is the time to get all persons involved in participating in the census, not the time for more fear, misinformation, and distrust of the government.”

The Department of Justice told the court July 3 that it had been instructed to determine whether there is a path forward consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision that would allow it to proceed with the citizenship question. The government also acknowledged that injunctions were in place, and that the Census Bureau is continuing the process of printing the census questionnaire without the citizenship question.

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