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Interview: California Secretary Of State Alex Padilla Weighs In On Citizenship Question Ruling

Steve Yeater/AP Images for UC Riverside

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Steve Yeater/AP Images for UC Riverside

Editor's note: In a court filing released Wednesday, an official says the Justice Department has been instructed to keep looking for a way to ask 2020 census responders whether they are citizens of the United States. Read more here.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked President Donald Trump's administration's efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census — for now. Trump responded by threatening to delay the census until the court is given more information.

California leaders are discussing how this ruling — and Trump's reaction to it — will impact the census. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla joined CapRadio's Beth Ruyak to discuss the ruling and what it could mean for California.

Listen to the full conversation:

Interview Highlights

On Padilla's reaction to the Supreme Court ruling

Look, the bottom line here is we got good news from the Supreme Court yesterday. They ruled against the Trump administration, and are not permitting a question about citizenship to appear on the 2020 census. And yes, while some people may think it's a little bit of a convoluted ruling, because it's referred back to the district court, and there's a potential for the administration to try again, I think most attorneys read it and for all practical purposes, the question has been answered in regards to the 2020 census.

On the possibility of Trump delaying the census

Look, Trump can say that all he wants, but you know, going back to high school government class, so that's just not doable. He may be president of the United States, but he cannot unilaterally postpone the census or delay the census, just because he's not getting his way. It's just another reminder for him that he must respect the Constitution, like the rest of America does. So the census will go forward in 2020. And thankfully, it will not be used to discourage or intimidate people from participating with this unnecessary citizenship question that he was trying to get at it.

On whether the debate over the citizenship question has already had an impact

Every 10 years is a tough enough challenge to ensure a complete count, not just in California, but throughout the country. An extra effort has to go into reaching those hard to count communities. And so this is no different. 

There's certainly some unique challenges going into 2020 above and beyond what we've dealt with historically. The potential for a citizenship question certainly was a big one. And so yes, just the potential or the threat of that question appearing on the census has had some effect. 

But, you know, the good news is, you know, we still have between now and next March, April timeframe, to communicate to all people about the importance of participating in the census, and why they should be able to do so confidently, and what the consequences are of not participating in the census. So I think we're able to turn the page on the citizenship question relatively quickly, as the bulk of our work for outreach, informing and educating the population is just now gearing up.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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