Census Citizenship Question Nixed By Supreme Court

A proposed question about citizenship has been rejected by the US Supreme Court, leaving it unlikely that the addition can be made in time for the 2020 count.

Us Supreme CourtThe US Department of Commerce’s controversial proposal to ask about citizenship status on the 20202 census forms reached a roadblock when a majority of the Supreme Court sent the matter back to lower courts. The decision, indicating that the court did not accept the Department’s rationale for the additional question, leaves the matter in a difficult posture for the fast-approaching decennial count process.

From coverage on Politico:

The administration argued that citizenship data will assist with anti-discrimination provisions in enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. However, critics contend that immigrant households could skip the census over fears the information could be used to scrutinize their legal status.

Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that the administration’s rationale appeared to be “contrived“ and suggested that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross presented a misleading rationale for adding the question when he said it had been requested by Justice Department officials to protect the rights of minority voters.

Given a previously announced deadline of July 2019 to begin the printing process, it appears unlikely that the question could be approved for the 20202 count. Early reaction by the Administration leaves the matter uncertain, with multiple potential paths forward.

MACo will be discussing the 2020 Census on Wednesday, August 14, at 3:45 pm, at its 2019 Summer Conference, including a live recording of the Conduit Street Podcast, focusing on these issues.

The 2019 MACo Summer Conference is August 14-17 at the Ocean City Convention Center. This year’s theme is “Winds of Change.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties