17 states and 7 cities file lawsuit challenging 2020 Census citizenship questions

17 states and 7 cities file lawsuit challenging 2020 Census citizenship questions

[JURIST] New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman [official website] is leading a group of 17 states and seven cities in a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] filed on Tuesday against the Census Beureau and Commerce Department [official website] in an attempt to remove citizenship questions that have been added to the 2020 Census questionnaire.

The last time the US Census contained questions regarding citizenship [NPR report] was in 1950. The Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] is claiming that the questions are now necessary in order to enforce the Voting Rights Act by equipping the DOJ with more accurate numbers of voting-age citizens.

However, New York and the other states and cities joining the lawsuit are alleging that the inclusion of questions regarding citizenship violates the government’s constitutional duty to ensure fair representation among the states at the federal level as the new questions might lead to an undercount of immigrant populations. The complaint states that:

this decision will ‘inevitably jeopardize the overall accuracy of the population count’ by significantly deterring participation in immigrant communities, because of concerns about how the federal government will use citizenship information.

In light of this anticipated undercounting, the complaint alleges that the new questions will have a detrimental impact on government funding and “will deprive historically marginalized immigrant communities of critical public and private resources over the next ten years.”

Last week California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a similar lawsuit [JURIST report] levying similar arguments, adding that these questions will disproportionately affect California over other states.