Supreme Court Readies for Oral Arguments on Census Citizenship Question

Monday, April 22, 2019

On April 23 the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in cases challenging Commerce Secretary Ross' decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Last year, the Trump administration gave a green light to adding an untested and dangerous citizenship question to the 2020 Census--a move that could lead to severe undercounts of communities of color and immigrants.

Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) joined with grantmaking organizations from around the country to file an amicus brief opposing the addition of the citizenship question.

“Three federal judges in New York, California and now Maryland agree with the plaintiffs--adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was unlawful,” said Bob Tracy, MCF’s director of public policy and communications. “We are hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will come to the same conclusion.”

By the administration’s own analysis, adding a citizenship question would stop “approximately 6.5 million people” from participating in the 2020 Census. As a result, states could unfairly lose a seat in the House of Representatives, and numerous other states will lose the funding they deserve for federal programs.

Currently, it is estimated Minnesota receives $15.5 billion annually in census-driven, federal dollars. Also, in question is whether Minnesota will continue to have eight congressional districts if the census does not operate in a way to meet its fundamental, constitutionally-defined purpose of counting each and every person.

Adding a citizenship question is untested and would impact participation in already under-resourced communities, like immigrant, Latino and Black communities. Lower courts also noted that the Trump administration did not follow rules for adding new questions to the census.

In addition to the amicus brief filed by philanthropy, Minnesota is represented in another brief field by state Attorneys General.

Read the MCF release.

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