- This story is available for reprint at no cost to Chicago news outlets or blogs. Please call 312.369.6400 to see if you qualify.
- At the bottom of this blog, you will find a list of resources, including local and national sources working on the census as well as articles to give you historical context.
- For a list of local sources, please download this PDF USCensus source list.
SCOTUS weighs in, advocates call it a win
What’s the reason? It better be good and you better not lie.
It’s a familiar parental warning. But it’s also apparently something the Supreme Court of the United States demands.
Civil rights advocates pushing for a full census count next year were celebrating Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling in which the justices decided government did not have a good enough reason to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census.
“We won,” said Matthew Colangelo, who argued for the New York Attorney General’s office along with about 130 other plaintiffs suing to remove the question. He spoke on a national call held by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights about next steps after the decision.
“The court held that the government had to disclose the basis for its decision,” Colangelo said. And the main reason given — that the question would mean gathering better data for enforcing the Voting Rights Act — “was not valid.” Or, simply put, he said, “You can’t lie and the Commerce Secretary did.”
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the question was at the request of the Justice Department. As the case unfolded, evidence showed it did not. Instead, the idea came from a political strategist.
Opponents, including top experts from the Census Bureau itself, had argued the question was politically motivated and would result in an undercount of millions — most of them people of color.
Yet, there still remains a question about the question. The court blocked the census question saying the reasons were not valid. It did not dismiss the question as invalid. So, technically, the Trump Administration could come back with another reason why the government need this question. Indeed, the President responded on Twitter saying he would ask his lawyers to delay the Census “no matter how long” as they look into giving the court more information.
This ignores the timetable census officials have given — that they must start printing forms by July 1 to make the mandated deadline of April 1, 2020. And it also ignores the Constitution, which sets the deadline.
But while claiming victory, advocates were also warning that much damage has already been done, scaring too many people away from responding to the census.
The census is in the Constitution as a key government tool to use for a variety of decisions, including how to spend more than $675 billion in community funding for things such as education, justice, housing and other federal programs. It is also the mechanism government uses to determine the number of representatives each state will have in Congress. An undercount translates into a loss of seats in the House of Representatives and a loss of federal money. Illinois stands to lose both. It can also affect the number of seats in the City Council or the county board.
“This administration is clearly and deliberately seeking to undercount community members of color,” said Jamal Watkins, of the NAACP. “That means we have to get out the count like no other and focus on complete count strategies.”
Several lawyers during the briefing said it is crucial that people reiterate that it is against the law (title 13) for the Secretary of Commerce or anyone working on the census to give out personal information. Indeed, any information given out has to be statistical.
“Trust in the census has already been eroded and fear has already grown,” said Justin Valas, policy director for Asian American Advancing Justice Chicago. “It is up to us to give them good information about why this is important.” He noted that Gov. Pritzker has allocated $29 million for the census count in Illinois. “We will work hard and do our best” to allay fears and “get an accurate count.”
Susy Schultz is president of Public Narrative, which is part of the Illinois Count Me In campaign. This story is available for reprint. To do so, please call Public Narrative at 312.329-6400.
U.S. CENSUS ARTICLES, STUDIES and RESOURCES
Brennan Center for Justice
National Council of State Legislators
NPR — reporter Hansi Lo Wang is amazing in his census coverage.
- Follow his robust Twitter feed @hansilowang
- Links for covering the 2020 Census – download file
- Stories you can do about the census – PPT presentation by D’Vera Cohn, Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Count Us In 2020 — there are numerous fact sheets in various languages. Also scroll down, there are also a number of other resources from other organizations.
- Color of Change — OurCount project
- Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
- MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
- NAACP — National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — Legal documents
- NALEO Education Fund
- Project Vote
- Ready Nation: Project for a Strong America — How businesses can contribute to an accurate count
Population loss in Chicago and Cook County
- Metro Chicago and Cook County losing increasing numbers of people to other places
- Socioeconomic shifts in the Chicago region
Example of Reporting Chicago’s Demographic Changes
GAO Reports on the 2020 Census
- 2017 High Risk Report for 2020 Decennial Census
- Actions Needed to Mitigate for 2020 Census Risks
- GAO recommendations on how the Census Bureau can achieve address canvassing
Funding for the Census
- FCW story on the uncertainty of the Census
- Brookings report on 2020 Census inaccuracy and why it matters
Analysis and Resources
- Commentary on groups that most likely not participate in census
- Census policies affecting red states
- Interactive on estimated unauthorized immigration population
Measuring the financial loss from undercounts and critical services
- GW Institute report on Census affecting geographic distribution
- Initial analysis on 2020 Census
- Census data on income and poverty
- Map of Census undercounts
- Census undercount compromises a decade of data
- History of Census and 2020 Census affects on democracy
- Confusion over race and ethnicity in Census
- Children undercounts in Census
- Red and blue states affected by undercount
Problems with the Census