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Supreme Court's Census Decision a Win for Democracy

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Democracy won. While not the decision we hoped for to decisively remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census, United Philanthropy Forum commends the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to affirm the District Court’s ruling to remand the case to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Given the upcoming census printing deadline, it’s unlikely the citizenship question will become part of the 2020 Census. 

At least for now, this action eliminates one barrier to ensuring a fair and accurate count of all communities, including historically undercounted groups like young children, immigrants, low-income families, and communities of color.

The court’s opinion rightly pointed out “the disconnect between the decision made and the explanation given” and calls the agency’s stated explanation “a distraction.” The Forum supports the court’s finding that the agency’s rationale for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census rings hallow and, in the court’s words, “is incongruent with what the record reveals about the agency’s priorities and decision-making process.”

Accurate census data are critical for philanthropy to conduct research, set strategic priorities, target investments, and measure progress on a range of issues like public health, education, and community and economic development. This ruling, in part, heeds the concerns of philanthropy, civil rights groups, business leaders, statisticians, and former Census Bureau directors in calling for an accurate census and removal of the citizenship question.

Even with the citizenship question blocked, for now, from the 2020 Census, there is significant fear, mistrust, and confusion that are barriers to a fair and accurate census count. The philanthropic community remains strongly committed to the count, with a particular focus on historically undercounted communities. The Forum and our network will continue to mobilize, alongside our partners, to ensure that every person is counted—as required by the U.S. Constitution.

David Biemesderfer
President & CEO
United Philanthropy Forum


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