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Healey, advocates celebrate win on 2020 Census question, say more work needs to be done

“This is an administration that seems to know no bounds, that continues to debase and degrade the rule of law and basic principles of democracy. Well, today democracy won,” Attorney General Maura Healey said Thursday.
“This is an administration that seems to know no bounds, that continues to debase and degrade the rule of law and basic principles of democracy. Well, today democracy won,” Attorney General Maura Healey said Thursday.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Attorney General Maura Healey and immigration activists welcomed a ruling by the US Supreme Court that put on hold the Trump administration’s plan to include a citizenship question on the 2020 US Census.

“We have had to challenge the Trump administration time after time, one illegal unconstitutional act after another,” Healey said Thursday afternoon. “This is an administration that seems to know no bounds, that continues to debase and degrade the rule of law and basic principles of democracy. Well, today democracy won.”

The comments came at a State House news conference after the high court ruled 5-4 Thursday in favor of barring the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the census, at least for the time being.

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Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority ruling that the explanation the Trump administration had given for wanting to add the question was “more of a distraction” than an explanation, adding that the reason for adding it “appears to have been contrived.”

Census forms are set to begin printing next week.

President Trump, who was in Japan for the Group of 20 summit, raised the possibility of delaying the census, saying he had “asked the lawyers if they can delay the Census, no matter how long.”

“Seems totally ridiculous that our government, and indeed Country, cannot ask a basic question of Citizenship in a very expensive, detailed and important Census, in this case for 2020,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Healey, along with 18 other attorneys general, had filed a lawsuit against adding the question last year. Activists and advocacy groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, joined her in the fight.

Critics have worried that, even though information provided to the census is confidential, the question would deter immigrants from being counted, affecting the amount of federal money that goes to each state and their representation in Congress.

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Rahsaan Hall, director of the racial justice program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, said the court’s decision “was a rebuke to the Trump administration’s efforts to weaponize the census.”

“There was an intentional effort to discriminate against immigrant communities and suppress turnout for the census so that there would not be an accurate count,” he said at the rally.

One in five workers in the state was born outside the United States, Healey said. The attorney general and supporters said it’s crucial that everyone who lives here fills out the census.

“It determines our representation in Congress. It determines our representation in the Electoral College,” Healey said. “It determines what we are going to receive as a state for federal funding that will go help schools and transportation and health care and so many other important services.”

Supporters said they wanted to make sure no one is invisible and every single person is counted.

Now that the ruling has been issued, Healey said, she wants the census forms printed right away “so that people here in Massachusetts and all across the country can be counted.”


Material from Globe wire services was used in this report. Breanne Kovatch can be reached at breanne.kovatch@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @breannekovatch.