Feb 15, 2019

Supreme Court to hear Trump appeal on census citizenship question

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from the Trump administration in its efforts to add a controversial citizenship citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Why it matters: Critics of the citizenship question argue it could lead to an inaccurate census count, as legal and undocumented immigrants might refuse to participate. Demographers believe an undercount could reduce the political power of heavily Democratic states with large immigrant communities during redistricting in 2021.

  • The other side: The administration argues it would help it enforce the Voting Rights Act. However, John Gore, the acting head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, said last year the question is "not necessary" to enforce the VRA.

The backdrop:

  • Steve Bannon and other administration officials started pushing for the addition months after President Trump took office, according to internal documents. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, said the DOJ recommended adding the question.
  • 18 states, several cities and immigrant groups notched a win over the administration last month when a federal judge in New York ruled against the Trump administration and said Ross “violated the law.” However, the judge did not find evidence the question was unconstitutional or motivated by any intent to discriminate.
  • The question hasn't been asked on the standard census form since 1950.

Go deeper: The full implications of the citizenship question

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