The US decennial census is still two years away, but a battle is brewing over the inclusion of a “citizenship” question on the 2020 census survey. The Census is authorized by the US Constitution in Art. 1, Sec. 2, and is conducted “in such Manner as (Congress) shall by Law direct.” The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 2 further clarifies, “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed” (emphasis added).
The “whole number” includes everyone without regard to citizenship which is the express subject of Section 1 which provides, “ All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Citizenship has no bearing on the census.
Congress provided for US Population Censuses in 13 U.S. Code Chapter 5, Subchapter III (§§ 141 – 143). The word “citizenship” does not appear in this Subchapter.
The Commerce Secretary is authorized in 13 U.S. Code § 141 to “take a decennial census of population” defined as “a census of population, housing, and matters relating to population and housing.” § 141(b) refers to the “tabulation of total population” for purposes of congressional apportionment without regard to “citizenship”.
The US Census Bureau itself defines “Population” as “All people, male and female, child and adult, living in a given geographic area.” It defines “Apportionment Population” as “the total resident population (citizens and non-citizens) of the 50 states.” Accordingly, since the terms “population” and “apportionment population” include all people, questions concerning citizenship are superfluous.
From 1970 to 2000, the census had questions related to citizenship. The 2010 census removed the question. California already plans to challenge the inclusion of the question in federal court. Given the current administration’s attacks on Dreamers and its Muslim ban attempts, one naturally must question the purpose of reinstating this question at this time. — Bruce C. Cohen is the author of the Missouri Defendant’s Procedural Warfare Manual
Bruce C. Cohen is an attorney and the author of Missouri Defendant’s Procedural Warfare Manual. He also writes fiction as Charlie Kenmore and Ken Charles.