Trump’s 2020 Census Citizenship Question Challenged In Court: 17 States, Cities Sue Commerce Department

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A proposed question on the 2020 Census form that will ask respondents if they are U.S. citizens is at the heart of a lawsuit which now includes 17 states, the District of Columbia, and six cities, Reuters is reporting. All of the cities and states are trying to prevent the inclusion of the question, which the Trump administration is pushing.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, California was the first state to sue the Commerce Department, which oversees the census, over the proposed question. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced in a tweet late last month that he was suing because the question is illegal.

“Filing suit against @realdonaldtrump’s Administration over decision to add #citizenship question on #2020Census. Including the question is not just a bad idea — it is illegal:”

Now another lawsuit has been filed by 24 more plaintiffs. According to Politico, those plaintiffs are 17 states (New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia), the District of Columbia, and six cities (New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Providence, Seattle, and San Francisco), as well as a private organization, the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Reuters notes that all of the jurisdictions named as plaintiffs in the suit have Democrat attorneys general.

At issue in the suit is the matter of self-reporting. Mandated by the Constitution every 10 years in order to determine how representatives will be sent to Congress, the census relies on Americans answering questions — and answering them honestly. However, opponents of the citizenship question fear that respondents will be reluctant to answer the question honestly or even fill out the census at all, thus risking inaccurate population counts. According to NPR, the inclusion of the question would thus undermine the constitutional responsibility of counting citizens.

The Commerce Department and the Trump administration, however, maintain that including the citizenship question would strengthen enforcement of Voting Rights Act, 1965 legislation intended to lower barriers to African Americans voting.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman doesn’t believe that, however. Rather, he says, the question is motivated by Donald Trump’s personal “anti-immigrant animus.”

“This is an affront to our national ideals. This is an affront to the Constitution.”

The census has not included any questions about citizenship since 1950.