The US Constitution requires a census every 10 years. But, before the census takers hit the streets, lawyers for the Census Bureau are headed for the US Supreme Court. At issue is a single question on the census form about citizenship.
The lower court ruled the question is unlawful because it may lead to an undercount of immigrants who fear they will be harassed or deported.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments about a single question on the 2020 census.
Hans Von Spakovsky of the Conservative Heritage Foundation tells us, “It simply asks whether the respondent is a U.S. citizen or not.” He says the Trump Administration added the question because the government needs accurate data.
The census determines how congressional districts are drawn and how much federal money communities receive.
Von Spakovsky says, “…that is very much dependent on knowing the citizenship population versus the non-citizenship population of the US…
Richard Cohen with the Southern Poverty Law Center says, “By asking the citizenship question, they are going to deter people from coming forward.”
Cohen says the citizenship question may lead to an undercount of immigrants who fear they will be harassed or deported. “Are you really going to trust the government to not use this against you? It seems more likely that you are just going to throw it in the trash can and not respond.”
Even the Census Bureau admits that the citizenship question could keep over half-a-million households from completing and returning the census form, forcing the bureau to follow-up in person and costing the taxpayers an additional $27 million.
Von Spakovsky says the Supreme Court will need to act quickly. “They’ve got to have a final decision on this by this summer in order to be able to print the tens of millions of census forms that are going to be needed for the census.”
The Supreme Court will hear the case in April.