Supreme Court hears arguments on census question

2 NEWS Washington Bureau

WASINGTON (WDTN) – The U.S. Constitution requires a census every 10 years, but before the census-takers hit the streets, lawyers for the Census Bureau are headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The issue — a single question on the census form about citizenship.

Hans von Spakovsky with the Conservative Heritage Foundation says the Trump administration added the question because the government needs accurate data.

The census determines how congressional districts are drawn and how much federal money communities receive.

“And that is very much dependent on knowing the citizenship population versus the non-citizenship population of the U.S.,” Von Spakovsky said.

Richard Cohen with the Southern Poverty Law Center says the citizenship question may lead to an undercount of immigrants who fear they will be harassed or deported. 

“By asking the citizenship question they are going to deter people from coming forward,” Cohen says. “Are you really going to trust the government to not use this against you? It seems more likely that you are just going to throw it in the trash can and not respond,”

Even the Census Bureau admits that the citizenship question could keep over half-a-million households from completing and returning the census form forcing the bureau to follow up in person and costing the taxpayers an additional 27 million dollars.

Von Spakovsky says the Supreme Court will need to act quickly.

“They’ve got to have a final decision on this by this summer in order to be able to print the tens of millions of census forms that are going to be needed for the census,” he says.

The Supreme Court will hear the case in April.

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