Trump Caves In, Won’t Put Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

President Trump is caving in to the Supreme Court. That’s too bad. I was hoping to watch the show. Instead he’s doing this:

Trump himself is typically incoherent trying to explain what this is all about, but Attorney General Bill Barr explained that they hope to use this information for apportionment. That is, they presumably want to apportion members of Congress by number of citizens per state, not number of residents. This is going to be tough sledding given the clear wording of the 14th Amendment:

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.

It says persons, not citizens, and the framers of the 14th Amendment clearly knew the difference. I suppose the Trumpies could try arguing that “Indians not taxed” really means “anyone not taxed,” and that “not taxed” means “not paying income tax” even though the income tax hadn’t been invented at the time. Other than that, I’m not sure how they could argue for apportionment based on citizens instead of residents. But that’s probably just because I’m not being creative enough.

Alternatively, Republicans could leave overall apportionment alone but try to draw congressional districts based on citizens, not residents. This would open up new avenues for gerrymandering that, for example, would probably keep Texas red for a while longer. The Supreme Court has previously signaled that it might be open to this kind of thing.


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.