U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively blocks addition of citizenship question to 2020 census

Written by: Children's Campaign
Date Posted: June 28, 2019

The United States Supreme Court dealt a victory to census advocates across the nation by delivering a ruling effectively blocking the addition of a question about citizenship to the 2020 census in a much-anticipated decision announced on Thursday.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s liberal justices in the 5-4 ruling. Justice Roberts delivered the complex opinion which held that Wilbur Ross, the secretary of the Department of Commerce, did not violate the Census Act or the enumeration clause by deciding to add the citizenship question to the census. However, the Court found that the rationale given by the Trump administration for adding the question (to enforce voting rights law) was inaccurate, and did not match evidence of the decision. Because of this, the case has been returned to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The Colorado Children’s Campaign, along with many other census advocates and stakeholders, takes this decision to mean the Department of Commerce cannot add the citizenship question and must begin printing 2020 census forms next week, as scheduled, without it. The citizenship question is completely untested and unnecessary, and the Census Bureau’s own research has warned that including it would depress response rates and threaten the accuracy of the population count. An inaccurate census count would result in flawed distribution of more than $800 billion in federal funding to states each year for programs like Head Start, Medicaid and the National School Lunch program, and would skew political representation in Washington for the next decade.

Although we are pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision, the work to ensure an accurate 2020 Census doesn’t stop here. The threat of the citizenship question has already undermined trust in the census in many communities, and undercounting young children under 5 remains a significant concern. It’s up to all of us to ensure that Colorado families know that participating in the 2020 Census is safe, easy and important. Stay tuned to KidsFlash between now and April to learn more about how you can help make sure every Colorado kid counts in 2020.

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About Children's Campaign

The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit www.coloradokids.org.