Conservatives support efforts by the Trump administration to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census. We urge the administration to actively appeal any efforts by leftist groups and others to have it removed.
Questions about citizenship have a long history on the U.S. Census, having appeared regularly from 1820 through 1950, since it was proposed by Thomas Jefferson in 1800. It also appears regularly on the American Community Survey (ACS), which is sent to one out of every 38 households on an annual basis.
Contrary to leftist claims, asking such a question will not result in a threat of deportation to respondents, or a downturn in census participation. The question is about citizenship—not legal status—and the Census Bureau is constrained by statute in sharing information about individual respondents. There is also no evidence that it will reduce the count among “had to count” populations. The ACS has asked a similar question for over a decade, which has not depressed participation; ironically, it has also not drawn any complaints from the left. Before that, the Long Form Census that preceded the ACS also asked it, without any erosion in participation.
Counting the number of citizens and non-citizens is critical for two reasons. First, it helps determine an accurate allocation of more than $800 billion in federal resources every year. Second, and more importantly, it assists in enforcing voting rights laws across the country—a policy goal the left has claimed for years it supports.
We also raise issue with the rising use of national injunctions by District courts, as was done in the most recent ruling related to the census question. These injunctions allow District courts sweeping power to bind the entire country, beyond the scope of their current jurisdiction. We echo the comments of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that they “appear inconsistent with longstanding limits on equitable relief and power of Article III courts. If their popularity continues, this court must address their legality.”
The judge’s ruling will, moreover, hand ever-increasing power to the administrative state, subtracting it from the executive power.
We urge the Trump administration to offer a full-throated defense of its citizenship question on the 2020 Census, and urge the Supreme Court to weigh in swiftly on the growing abuse of national injunctions by the District courts.
Read the letter and full list of signatories here