Is Asking About Citizenship on the Census Unconstitutional?
Would adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census—which a lawsuit argues could dissuade people from responding to it—violate the Constitution’s enumeration clause, which requires that an “actual enumeration,” or a counting, of all Americans be performed every ten years? Does it matter how and why the question is added? Tom Wolf, Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, and John Eastman, Professor at Chapman University School of Law, join host Jeffrey Rosen to debate these questions. They discuss the pending Supreme Court case Department of Commerce v. New York, in which numerous states are suing Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross over his decision to add a citizenship question to the census. Wolf and Eastman consider how Ross’s motive for asking about citizenship on the census might affect how the justices rule on the case, and offer a helpful historical deep dive into the census itself and its inclusion of questions regarding citizenship.
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