Voting Rights and Democracy

RELEASE: Court’s Conservatives Send Troubling Signals On Integrity Of 2020 Census

“The integrity of the 2020 Census is clearly at issue in this case, but nothing less than the integrity of the Supreme Court is on the line for Chief Justice John Roberts.” — CAC President Elizabeth Wydra

WASHINGTON – Following oral argument today at the U.S. Supreme Court over the integrity of the 2020 Census and the Trump Administration’s plans to add a citizenship question to skew the Constitution’s mandated head count of all persons in the United States, Constitutional Accountability Center issued the following reaction:

CAC Civil Rights Director David Gans, who attended this morning’s argument, said, “Disregarded throughout the argument was the constitutional backdrop that both the original Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment require counting all persons—citizens and noncitizens alike. The Court’s conservative wing turned a blind eye to the Framers’ explicit choice to require counting all persons, no matter where they are from and no matter their citizenship status.  While the Court’s relatively progressive wing this morning urged careful review of the record to ensure that Secretary Ross did not undermine the accuracy of the constitutionally mandated count of all persons, the Court’s conservative Justices seemed to treat the constitutional obligation to count all persons as a policy preference, one that could be balanced away against other objectives.”

“There was a lot of discussion this morning about the history of the citizenship question on the Census and enforcement of the Voting Rights Act,” continued CAC Chief Counsel Brianne Gorod, who also attended the argument this morning. “But perhaps the most important point about that history is this: a citizenship question has not been asked of all Census respondents since the Voting Rights Act was passed into law. Indeed, for the last 53 years, no one has ever suggested that enforcement of the Voting Rights Act was hampered by the failure of the Census Bureau to ask all persons residing in the United States to divulge their citizenship status. It strains credulity to think that members of the Trump Administration are the first to realize that a citizenship question on the Census is somehow necessary to enforce the Voting Rights Act.”

“The integrity of the 2020 Census is clearly at issue in this case,” added CAC President Elizabeth Wydra, “but nothing less than the integrity of the Supreme Court is on the line for Chief Justice John Roberts. The record is replete with evidence of Secretary Ross’s mendacity in engineering this bogus question intended to skew the Census’s constitutionally mandated count. For the Roberts Court to uphold this effort would do lasting damage to the apolitical status and perception of the Court that the Chief Justice says he wants to protect.”

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Resources:

CAC brief on behalf of Members of Congress in New York, et al. vs. U.S. Department of Commerce, et al.: https://www.theusconstitution.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Census-Supreme-Court-Amicus-Brief.pdf

“The Supreme Court Has A Chance To Push Back On Gerrymandering Today,” David Gans, BuzzFeed News (Op-Ed), March 26, 2019: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/davidgans/opinion-gerrymandering-rigs-democracy-supreme-court

Letter from Constitution, Civil Rights and Democracy Organizations to Secretary Ross: Reject Mandatory Citizenship Question on 2020 Census, March 22, 2018: https://www.theusconstitution.org/news/release-constitution-civil-rights-democracy-organizations-secretary-ross-reject-mandatory-citizenship-question-2020-census/

The Cornerstone of our Democracy: The Census Clause and the Constitutional Obligation to Count All Persons, David Gans, CAC Issue Brief, March 19, 2018: https://www.theusconstitution.org/think_tank/cornerstone-democracy-census-clause-constitutional-obligation-count-persons/

“Count all the people, just as the Constitution says,” David Gans, San Antonio Express-News, March 9, 2018: https://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/commentary/article/Count-all-the-people-just-as-the-Constitution-12742298.php

CAC Letter to Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce: Census Citizenship Question “Threatens to Undermine Your Constitutional Duty,” February 15, 2018: https://www.theusconstitution.org/news/release-letter-secretary-ross-census-citizenship-question-threatens-undermine-constitutional-duty/

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Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit CAC’s website at www.theusconstitution.org.

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