Update on Citizenship Question on Census 2020

UPDATE:  The Supreme Court heard oral arguments concerning the decision to add the citizenship status question to Census 2020 on April 25, 2019.  Court watchers reported that oral argument lasted far longer than usual, with vigorous questioning of both sides.   A decision must be issued before the Court’s term ends on June 30th.  The government is slated to print the actual Census 2020 forms in July.

However, recent evidence emerged othat a G.O.P. strategist on redistricting was involved in advising the Trump administration’s transition team and the Department of Commerce to add the citizenship status question specifically in order to provide an electoral edge to Republican and Non-Hispanic Whites. Attorneys notified the Supreme Court on May 30th about the new evidence, and arguments are scheduled in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, the first court to rule on the citizenship question, for June 5, 2019.

On April 5, 2019, a Federal District Court in Maryland became the third court to rule that the Department of Commerce cannot add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 decennial Census.

As we have written previously, the purpose of the decennial census is to measure the entire U.S. population, regardless of immigration status.  The census count is used to apportion congressional representation,  to inform the distribution of some federal funds, and is relied upon by the private sector as well.

The Maryland federal court’s decision joins those by federal courts in New York and California in blocking the government from adding the question to the census forms.   The administration has already appealed the issue to the Supreme Court, which will hear oral argument later in April, with a decision expected before the end of June 2019.