The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case challenging the Trump administration’s plans to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. Voting rights activists fear that adding the question will deter immigrants from participating in the census and lead to a vast undercount in states with large immigrant communities. Census officials have estimated 6.5 million people will not respond to the census if the citizenship question is added. This undercount could affect everything from the redrawing of congressional maps to the allocation of federal funding.
The case centers on whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had the authority to add the question to the census. The American Civil Liberties Union and 17 states have sued, saying Ross’s move was aimed at deterring immigrants from participating in the census. During the oral arguments, the court’s conservative majority appeared to side with the Trump administration, while the liberal minority questioned the administration’s motives and methods.
Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, “There’s no doubt that people will respond less. If you’re talking about prediction, this is about 100 percent that people will answer less.” DN! speaks with Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. MALDEF is representing plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits challenging the census citizenship question. Democracy Now! also speaks with Ari Berman, senior writer at Mother Jones. His new piece is titled “In Census Case, Supreme Court Suddenly Cares a Lot About Voting Rights Act.”
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