On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a much-anticipated decision on the census citizenship question case, that—for now—the citizenship question cannot appear on the 2020 Census. Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion affirmed the lower court’s finding that the Department of Commerce’s stated reason for adding the citizenship question was false.
During arguments in the case at the Supreme Court in April, it seemed as though the Trump administration would win because Roberts and other conservatives appointed by Republican presidents did not appear to see anything wrong with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add the question. Ultimately, however, Roberts joined the court’s four more liberal members in saying the administration’s current justification for the question “seems to have been contrived.”
John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said, “We believe that the clock is running out and that the Commerce Department should abandon its efforts to include a citizenship question for Census 2020. But if it doesn’t, we will continue to fight to ensure that our communities are counted fully, and that includes robust litigation efforts. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic in this country and we need this 2020 Census to count all of us.”
While the decision is not final, Rich Stolz, OneAmerica’s executive director, said, “We need to continue to be active on this issue. Even without the citizenship question, communities of color are at risk of being undercounted in the census.”
Under the Court’s ruling, the Department of Commerce may try again to add the question, but it must provide a different, well-reasoned explanation for the addition.
Now, the Washington Census Alliance, made up of over 70 organizations led by people of color, is gearing up to address fear, separating fact from fiction, and making sure their families and neighbors have all the information needed to participate in the census. The 2020 Census could have huge repercussions for Washington state—the count determines the state’s number of seats in the House of Representatives and billions of dollars per year of funding for schools, roads, and hospitals.
The citizenship question was designed to rob our communities of the valuable resources and services we deserve. We refuse to be silenced and refuse to be made invisible.
We call on all community members to help make sure everyone is counted in the 2020 Census. We get only one chance for the next 10 years to get it right.