President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr began working to find a way to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census just after the Supreme Court blocked its inclusion last month, Mr. Barr said on Monday, adding that he believes that the administration can find a legal path to incorporating the question.
“The president is right on the legal grounds. I felt the Supreme Court decision was wrong, but it also made clear that the question was a perfectly legal question to ask, but the record had to be clarified,” Mr. Barr said in an interview. He was referring to the ruling that left open the possibility that the citizenship question could be added to the census if the administration came up with a better rationale for it.
“It makes a lot of sense for the president to see if it’s possible that we could clarify the record in time to add the question,” Mr. Barr added.
But he also acknowledged that the career Justice Department lawyers who had worked on the census question had little appetite to continue on the case after Mr. Trump inserted himself into the process. “We’re going to reach a new decision and I can understand if they’re interested in not participating in this phase,” Mr. Barr said. The Justice Department announced a day earlier that it was replacing them, a nearly unheard-of move.