Census Citizenship Question Triggers Legal and Political Fallout

Publication date: 
October 2018
Census Citizenship Question Triggers Legal and Political Fallout

As the timeline for launching the 2020 decennial census approaches fast, legal and political controversy surrounds the Trump administration’s inclusion of a question on citizenship status. The question, which was dropped after the 1950 census, was reinstated on March 26, 2018 by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department oversees the U.S. Census Bureau.

Six lawsuits were quickly brought challenging reinstatement of the question, amid charges by critics that the move represents a raw political effort by the Republican administration to reduce participation in the census by Hispanics and other minorities. They argue that a flawed headcount would have deeply damaging and lasting effects on state and local governments, as well as individuals and communities, because everything from political representation to the doling out of federal funding relies on the once-a-decade census.