Another judge blocks citizenship question on census

Lest we forget, 2020 isn’t just a presidential election year. It’s also time once again for the decennial census. And one of the hot button issues surrounding this tedious chore is whether or not the government will be asking questions about everyone’s citizenship status on the standard census form instead of just on the long forms like they usually do. The White House says yes, but opponents of the idea have been going to court trying to block the action. They’ve succeeded twice already, and now another judge in Maryland is also issuing an injunction. (Baltimore Sun)

A third federal judge has blocked the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, ruling Friday that it poses a “substantial risk” of undercounting Hispanics and non-citizens.

U.S. District Judge George Hazel in Maryland also concluded that a citizenship question is “arbitrary and capricious” and violates the Constitution and the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

Federal judges in New York and California previously barred the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the census for the first time since 1950. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments April 23 for the Justice Department ‘s appeal of the New York judge’s decision.

So the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case in two weeks. When would we get a decision from them? They’ll need to move more quickly than usual because we’ve got to start printing the forms at some point. (It takes a while to crank out more than 350 million copies of anything and distribute them around the country.) Turning the census form into a stalking horse for Democrats is probably smart liberal politics, but if we have any judges left who are thinking clearly, these attempts to ban the question may go down in flames.

It’s worth reminding everyone saying this is unusual and “not something we do” of the facts. (NPR published a decent fact check of the question last year.) Has the citizenship question been asked on every census form we send out throughout modern history? No. We stopped asking the citizenship question on the short form after 1950. Does that mean we don’t ask it? Nope. Since 1970, the long form has asked specifically about citizenship status. The long form goes to roughly 1 in 6 households. So out of 350 million people, more than 50 million were going to be asked anyway.

The confusion over the long form not asking it in 2010 is also easily clarified. There was no long form in 2010. It was replaced with the American Community Survey that year. And yes, the American Community Survey asks the citizenship status of each recipient. So, with the exception of 1960, we’ve been asking tens of millions of citizens about their citizenship for a very long time. Were all of those surveys inaccurate? Were they all unconstitutional? If your answer to those questions is yes, you’ve got one hell of a cleanup waiting for you in aisle three.

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