Republican Congressman Tells Trump to Ignore Supreme Court and Add Citizenship Question to Census

Following the Department of Justice's abrupt move to abandon a legal effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, a Republican representative urged President Donald Trump to overlook a recent Supreme Court ruling that blocked the initiative and to unilaterally order the question be included.

Texas Representative Chip Roy, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told the president he should "ignore" any lawyers advising him and to move forward with previous plans to include a citizenship question—something that has not been on the census for nearly 70 years.

"Absolutely. It's the lawyers advising him. @realDonaldTrump should ignore them. Completely," Roy said in a Tuesday evening tweet. "Print the census with the question - and issue a statement explaining why – 'because we should.' Done."

His suggestion that the leader of the Executive Branch defy a ruling by the Judicial Branch's top court would require Trump to take action that's prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. Current law and the Constitution also hinder a president's ability to delay the questionnaire.

Roy's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The freshman Republican most recently found himself in the national spotlight after blocking billions of dollars in disaster relief money already approved by the president and passed by the GOP-controlled Senate that would have provided federal funds for victims of hurricanes, floods and wildfires across the country.

Roy's tweet came as Trump wrote one of his own, saying that he asked the Departments of Justice and Commerce to "do whatever is necessary to bring this most vital of questions, and this very important case, to a successful conclusion."

It's unclear how this could occur, as the Justice Department confirmed that it ordered the printing of census materials without the citizenship question.

Republican tells Trump defy Supreme Court
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) listens during a House Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee hearing on confronting white supremacy at the U.S. Capitol on May 15 in Washington, DC. Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty

Trump further muddied the water Wednesday morning, contradicting his own Commerce and Justice Departments in a tweet.

"The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE!" Trump wrote. "We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question."

But just hours earlier, DOJ again confirmed to Newsweek there would be no citizenship question, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Tuesday night said in a statement that the printing of the census began without the citizenship question.

The Supreme Court struck a blow last week to the Commerce Department's attempt to add the question, which critics argue would discourage large swaths of minorities and undocumented people from answering and lead to inaccurate results about population sizes. Among other things, the decennial census is used by states to redraw congressional districts based on populations that last a decade, potentially having nationwide political impacts, such as which party controls the House.

Joining the liberal court's justices in blocking the addition of the question, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the Commerce Department lacked justification when claiming the question would help enforce the Voting Rights. He described it as "contrived" reasoning and further said that the evidence indicated the Commerce Department made the decision to add the question before going to the Justice Department seeking legal justification.

"Accepting contrived reasons would defeat the purpose of the enterprise. If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case," Roberts wrote. "We do not hold that the agency decision here was substantively invalid. But agencies must pursue their goals reasonably. Reasoned decision-making under the Administrative Procedure Act calls for an explanation for agency action. What was provided here was more of a distraction."

Trump blasted the court's decision as "totally ridiculous" in a tweet, writing at the time that he requested if the lawyers could "delay the Census, no matter how long."

Asher Stockler contributed to this story.

Republican Congressman Tells Trump to Ignore Supreme Court and Add Citizenship Question to Census | U.S.