Today, the Supreme Court blocked temporarily the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 decennial Census. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts described Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s position that the question would allow the government to better enforce sections of the Voting Right Act as “contrived.” He further added:
“The reasoned explanation requirement of administrative law is meant to ensure that agencies offer genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public. The explanation provided here was more of a distraction.”
National CAPACD joined the amicus brief submitted by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fundin early April. The 2020 census comes at a critical time – and with significant political consequences. The 2020 population counts will determine the number of seats each state gets in the House of Representatives. It will also determine the number of Electoral College votes each state gets in presidential elections from 2024 onwards.
National CAPACD Executive Director Seema Agnani commended the decision and urged caution. “While the Court’s decision today temporarily blocks the citizenship question from the 2020 Census, we must continue to fight against it as the case is remanded back to the lower courts. The 2020 Census will have significant implications for political representation and for important resource allocations regarding federal funding. The $900 billion of federal infrastructure money – funding that supports our schools, roads, health care, and more – must be targeted to meet the needs of our most vulnerable community members. And we know from experience that a citizenship question would result in a severe undercount of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.”
The Census Bureau faces a deadline of July 1, 2019 to print the upcoming Census forms. National CAPACD will continue to monitor this issue and partner with other civil rights organizations that are still fighting the addition of the citizenship question. We will also continue to advocate for adequate staffing and funding for an accurate Census count in 2020.