Should The Citizenship Question Be Added To 2020 Census?
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
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The prospect of having a citizenship question being added on the 2020 census could potentially have lasting impact on funding (in Head Start, Medicare, SNAP, highway funding, social security forecasts, wellness program and health studies, etc.), election districting, or political voice. This question has not appeared on the census short form for over 50-60 years. It has caused concern that if enough people react to the citizenship question negatively by failing to fill out the census completely, there could be an undercount of the population in 2020 into the millions (in 2016, 9.8% of U.S. households included a non-citizen.) Such an undercount (by more than 32 million, according to report from UCLA, and by more than 19 million, according to Bureau of Census of U.S. Department of Commerce) would not be evenly distributed and could disproportionally impact states with large immigrant populations (such as Arizona, California, New York, and Texas). On the other side of the argument: the Commerce Department said gathering that information by including the citizenship question would help the Justice Department to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Furthermore, other countries such as Canada and Mexico also have such a question on their census forms. But three lower court justices have rejected that argument early this year, saying the proper procedures to change the survey were not followed.
In my experience, when dealing with an argument, it is important to have a clear understanding of the basic definition and principle involved. So, I started my search on the definition of “census”, and Census in the Constitution:
I. According to the online dictionary in italics, below:
noun, plural cen·sus·es.
- an official enumeration of the population, with details as to age, sex, occupation, etc.
- (in ancient Rome) the registration of citizens and their property, for purposes of taxation.
verb (used with object)
- to take a census of (a country, city, etc.): The entire nation is censused every 10 years.
II. According to the United States Census Bureau in italics, below:
Census in the Constitution
The U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to carry out the census in “such manner as they shall by Law direct” (Article I, Section 2). The Founders of our fledgling nation had a bold and ambitious plan to empower the people over their new government. The plan was to count every person living in the newly created United States of America, and to use that count to determine representation in the Congress.
Enshrining this invention in our Constitution marked a turning point in world history. Previously censuses had been used mainly to tax or confiscate property or to conscript youth into military service. The genius of the Founders was taking a tool of government and making it a tool of political empowerment for the governed over their government.
They accomplished that goal in 1790 and our country has every 10 years since then. In 1954, Congress codified earlier census acts and all other statutes authorizing the decennial census as Title 13, U.S. Code. Title 13, U.S. Code, does not specify which subjects or questions are to be included in the decennial census. However, it does require the Census Bureau to notify Congress of general census subjects to be addressed 3 years before the decennial census and the actual questions to be asked 2 years before the decennial census.
Questions beyond a simple count are Constitutional
It is constitutional to include questions in the decennial census beyond those concerning a simple count of the number of people. On numerous occasions, the courts have said the Constitution gives Congress the authority to collect statistics in the census. As early as 1870, the Supreme Court characterized as unquestionable the power of Congress to require both an enumeration and the collection of statistics in the census. The Legal Tender Cases, Tex.1870; 12 Wall., U.S., 457, 536, 20 L.Ed. 287. In 1901, a District Court said the Constitution’s census clause (Art. 1, Sec. 2, Clause 3) is not limited to a headcount of the population and “does not prohibit the gathering of other statistics, if ‘necessary and proper,’ for the intelligent exercise of other powers enumerated in the constitution, and in such case there could be no objection to acquiring this information through the same machinery by which the population is enumerated.” United States v. Moriarity, 106 F. 886, 891 (S.D.N.Y.1901).
The census does not violate the Fourth Amendment. Morales v. Daley, 116 F. Supp. 2d 801, 820 (S.D. Tex. 2000). In concluding that there was no basis for holding Census 2000 unconstitutional, the District Court in Morales ruled that the 2000 Census and the 2000 Census questions did not violate the Fourth Amendment or other constitutional provisions as alleged by plaintiffs. (The Morales court said responses to census questions are not a violation of a citizen’s right to privacy or speech.) “…[I]t is clear that the degree to which these questions intrude upon an individual’s privacy is limited, given the methods used to collect the census data and the statutory assurance that the answers and attribution to an individual will remain confidential. The degree to which the information is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests has been found to be significant. A census of the type of Census 2000 has been taken every ten years since the first census in 1790. Such a census has been thought to be necessary for over two hundred years. There is no basis for holding that it is not necessary in the year 2000.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court decision on October 10, 2001, 275 F.3d 45. The U.S. Supreme Court denied petition for writ of certiorari on February 19, 2002, 534 U.S. 1135. No published opinions were filed with these rulings.
These decisions are consistent with the Supreme Court’s recent description of the census as the “linchpin of the federal statistical system … collecting data on the characteristics of individuals, households, and housing units throughout the country.” Dept. of Commerce v. U.S. House of Representatives, 525 U.S. 316, 341 (1999).
My interpretation of this matter is: The purpose of Census is to count every person living in the United States (according to U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 2). There are questions that may be included (such as age, gender, occupation, etc.). But if any question that would significantly negatively impact the count of the population, then the question should not be included. Because by including the question, it would essentially take us back to the time of ancient Rome, when the purpose of census was for the registration of citizens and their properties, for purposes of taxation…and to a time when slavery existed and women could not vote nor hold political office.
Before the final decision will be made by the end of June, 2019, new evidence from a dead man’s hard drive, has emerged, in the video below, indicating that the purpose of “adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census ‘would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats’ and advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites’ in redistricting“. This new evidence showed that the Trump administration’s motive was to boost the electoral clout of Republicans and non-Hispanic whites in congressional elections, claimed by lawyers for the New York Immigration Coalition. Will this new piece of evidence affect the outcome of the Supreme Court decision?
NPR national correspondent Hansi Lo Wang joined MTP Daily to discuss the new evidence that has emerged amidst the fight over the Census citizenship question in the video “New Evidence Emerges in Fight Over Census Citizenship Question, MTP Daily, MSNBC“, below:
“Is this person a citizen of the United States? ” These nine words are at the heart of a massive dust up around the 2020 census that has sparked debate about the rights of voters, minorities and immigrants. It has culminated in a Supreme Court case involving not only whether or not it’s constitutional to ask about citizenship, but if the way the Commerce Department reintroduced the question was even legal. So far, three judges have found that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross gave a phony reason for adding a Census citizenship question. With the census due to be printed, the question is on it’s way to the Supreme Court, in the video “How a census question about citizenship ended up in the Supreme Court“, below:
In a defeat for the Trump administration, a federal judge blocked the Commerce Department from adding a question on U.S. citizenship to the 2020 census. The case will likely be reviewed by the Supreme Court, in the video “Judge blocks addition of citizenship question to 2020 census“, below:
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced in March, 2019, it plans to add back a question on citizenship status to the 2020 census — a change requested by the Justice Department. Now the state of California is suing the Trump administration, calling the move unconstitutional. The former director of the U.S. Census Bureau Kenneth Pruitt discusses the impact of the rule change with Judy Woodruff, in the video “Citizenship question may result in less accurate 2020 census, says former bureau director“, below:
In April, 2019, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, discusses Supreme Court weighing of the Trump administration’s plan to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census and the state of the investigation into the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election . She speaks with Bloomberg’s Kevin Cirilli on “Balance of Power.” in the video “Census Citizenship Question Will Result in Undercount, Rep. Maloney Says“, below:
In April, 2019, Conservative-leaning justices appeared to be open to siding with the Trump administration’s goals of adding a question about a respondent’s citizenship to the upcoming 2020 census form. CBS News’ Jan Crawford reports, in the video “Supreme Court considers citizenship question on 2020 census“, below:
You may also be interested in the reporting from MSNBC in the video “Why you should care about the Census citizenship question” at: https://www.msnbc.com/velshi-ruhle/watch/why-you-should-care-about-the-census-citizenship-question-60672069598
I reiterate: My interpretation of this matter is: The purpose of Census is to count every person living in the United States (according to U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 2). There are questions that may be included (such as age, gender, occupation, etc.). But if any question that would significantly negatively impact the count of the population, then the question should not be included. Because by including the question, it would essentially take us back to the time of ancient Rome, when the purpose of census was for the registration of citizens and their properties, for purposes of taxation…and to a time when slavery existed and women could not vote nor hold political office.
Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker More about the community at www.WindermereSun.com
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