US bishops commend Supreme Court's 2020 census decision

Census Credit Maria Dryfhout Shutterstock Maria Dryfhout/Shutterstock.

The US bishops on Tuesday applauded the Supreme Court's recent decision blocking the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 census under the reasons proffered by the Commerce Department.

"We affirm last week's decision by the Supreme Court that the inclusion of a citizenship question must ensure genuine reasons for such inclusion," Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice and Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, chairs of the USCCB's domestic justice and migration committees, said July 2.

"We reaffirm that all persons in the United States should be counted in the Census regardless of their immigration status and reemphasize our judgment that questions regarding citizenship should not be included in the Census. We hope that this view will prevail, whether by administrative action or judicial determination."

In its June 27 decision in Department of Commerce v. New York, the court found that the Trump administration's reason for seeking to include a citizenship question on the census seemed "contrived". The ruling was 5-4.

The administration agreed July 2 to start printing the questionnaire without the question.

The decennial census is used in districting for elections, and helps determine the allocation of federal funding to the states.

A question about whether the respondent is a citizen has not appeared on the census questionnaire since 1950.

The administration had argued for its inclusion under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, saying it could strengthen protections for minorities.

But some researchers at the Census Bureau had found that including the citizenship question could lower the response rate of minority and immigrant households, lowering the quality of the census data.

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