Supreme Court Blocks Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census, But the Trump Administration is Still Pushing

On June 27th, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States put a hold on the Trump Administration’s proposal to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census. In the case of Department of Commerce v. New York, the court ruled that the administration would need to produce a better explanation regarding why it is seeking to add such a question before being allowed to do so. Part of the opinion was unanimous, while other parts were largely split along ideological lines, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the four liberal-leaning members. 

Supreme Court: The 2020 Census Citizenship Question Must Be Put on Hold

The key thing to know about the Supreme Court decision, in this case, is that it did not rule that a citizenship question is inherently illegal. In the abstract, the federal government may have the authority to add a citizenship question to the census. However, the court also determined that the Department of Commerce lied about why it wanted to add such a question. 

While President Trump’s Commerce Department told the court that the reason that it wanted the citizenship question was to help the government get access to the data that it needs to better enforce the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the evidence uncovered in the trial found that the explanation simply was not true. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the administration’s citation to the Voting Rights Act was a simply “pretextual” rationale.

The Trump Administration is Still Attempting to Force the Issue

On July 4th, 2019, Axios reported that President Trump is considering taking executive action to try to force the citizenship question onto the census. Based on the Supreme Court’s ruling, it is possible that the administration could try again to offer a non-discriminatory rationale to get the citizenship question added to the census. Should the administration move forward, it is likely that there would be additional litigation on this issue in the near future. 

If it were to make it onto the 2020 census, the citizenship question could disadvantage Southern California. Experts have testified that such a question is likely to result in an undercounting of immigrants. Indeed, this is undoubtedly the real reason why the Trump Administration is pushing the question in the first place — to discourage immigrants from replying to the survey. Areas with a large number of immigrants — including Los Angeles County — could potentially lose out on federal funding or even federal representation if an accurate population count is prevented. 

We Fight for Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, California

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, we are proud to fight for the legal rights of immigrants. With more than 15 years of experience, our top-rated immigration lawyer handles the full range of immigration matters, including citizenship and naturalization. To learn more about how we can help you and your family, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Los Angeles law office for a completely confidential consultation.