WASHINGTON, July 3 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Justice Department has been instructed to reverse its course and explore whether there is a path forward to add a citizenship question on the 2020 census while keeping consistent with the Supreme Court's decision blocking the move for the time being, local media reported Wednesday.
The shift came after President Donald Trump tweeted earlier on Wednesday that "we are absolutely moving forward, as we must" on the citizenship question in response to the department's Tuesday statement that the administration had dropped the question from the census.
"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 tweeted.
Jody Hunt, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Division, told a federal judge in Maryland later that if they find a viable path, they plan to go to the Supreme Court for "instructions ... to simplify and expedite the remaining litigation and provide clarity to the process going forward."
The judge has asked for more information from the Justice Department by 2 p.m. Friday.
The Supreme Court ruled in late June that the Trump administration did not give an adequate reason for adding the question to the 2020 census and sent the issue back to the Department of Commerce, which oversees the Census Bureau, for further explanation.
"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," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court's 5-4 majority opinion. He joined with the court's liberal wing in delivering the ruling.
Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham has agreed to testify on the issue before the House Oversight Committee on July 24.
The Trump administration had planned to ask all recipients a citizenship question on the 2020 census for the first time since 19400, claiming the question is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act. Those who oppose the question's addition argue that the move will lead to an inaccurate population count since it will cause immigrants and noncitizens to skip the question or the census altogether.
Traditionally, there is another survey that is sent to one out of 36 households that asks the citizenship question.
The data obtained from the census, which is conducted once a decade under the Constitution, is used for the allocation of congressional seats and the distribution of billions of federal dollars to states and localities over the next ten years.