Exploring the 2020 Census Ruling
By: Noah Chani/Arab America Contributing Writer
Every 10 years in the United States, a census is conducted and its purpose is to count all the people in the United States, as well as basic info about them. This massive survey has long been collecting data regarding the age, race, and sex of people who dwell within the borders of the United States.
Leading up to the upcoming 2020 Census, the Trump Administration is attempting to add legislation which would allow an additional question regarding citizenship to be included. Since the department of commerce filed a request to add this question, 18 State Attorney Generals have filed lawsuits against the Department of Commerce saying that adding this question would be unconstitutional.
On Thursday, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration did not provide adequate reasoning for why the citizenship question is a necessity to be included on the census. After all, the US Constitution states that all “persons” residing in the United States should be counted, it would be a different story if it read “all citizens” in the United States should be counted. So, with that being said, we will discuss what the intentions of those who were pushing for the question to be added might have been, why the Supreme Court did not allow the question, and what the implications might have been had the question been added.
The Census is far more than what many Americans may think it is on the surface. It is used to allot seats in the United States House of Representatives, and also it helps determine how over $800 billion in federal funds are dispersed throughout the country. The Trump Administration argued that the addition of the question was necessary in order to more appropriately enforce voting laws. The last time a question regarding citizenship was found on the US Census was I the year 1950, it is nearly impossible to imagine reverting 70 years backward in a country going through an ever-growing diversification, without any complications and contention. While the question may very well slightly aid enforcing voting regulations as the Trump Administration said, it is fairly assumable that the attempt to add the question has a deeper political motive.
Arab American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib contests that the truth of the matter is that the Trump Administration does not want to count everyone in the US in the census. The question will strike fear into our countries minority communities resulting in a high number of US minority groups not completing the census. Tlaib explains that it is a blatant attempt to not count people of color because it is well known that many do not align with the political ideals of the current administration. While you do need to be a citizen to vote, you do not need to be a citizen to be counted in the census which directly influences congressional districts, electoral maps, and seats in the House of Representatives.
An undercount as a result of an unconstitutional citizenship question could have also had a negative impact on the United States’ business sector. Many businesses use information from the census to decide where they locate, as well as how they strategically invest their money. With a census which fails to reflect a true count, some businesses will make ill-informed strategic decisions which may come to haunt them.
The late Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller concluded a study in 2015 which showed that asking census question in regard to citizenship “…would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” in determining the allotment of electoral votes following the 2020 census. It is fair to assume what might have been if the bill had passed. Minority populations across the United States would have been discouraged to fill out their census which would have resulted in an unbalanced electoral vote allotment, clearly beneficial to the Republican party.