CIANA Explains: What’s Happening with Census 2020?


1950 Census Form, U.S. Census Bureau

In January, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of New York ordered a stop on the administration’s plan to use the citizenship question in the 2020 Census. The judge cited several reasons why the question is unconstitutional, arguing that it violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which prevents federal agencies from using their powers in such a way that is “arbitrary and capricious.”

The lawsuit also claims that inclusion of the question would violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment states that an individual has a right to a grand jury, due process of law, and protection from self-incrimination. If an individual were to fill out the 2020 Census citizenship question, it would reveal their status as a documented or undocumented immigrant—and thus would be self- incriminating. Judge Furman argues that the intention to include the question is ultimately “motivated by discrimination against immigrant communities of color.”

Following the blocking of the question, the Trump administration filed an appeal with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting a review of Judge Furman’s ruling. The Supreme Court has agreed to a hearing this April and will make a decision regarding the constitutionality of the question in June.