National Urban League Encouraged by SCOTUS Ruling on Census Citizenship Question

By National Urban League
Published 12 PM EST, Sun Dec 8, 2019

NEW YORK (June 27, 2019) -- National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial today said he was encouraged by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

“We have known from the beginning that the addition of a citizenship question was a blatant ploy to reduce minority participation and rob communities of their political power,” Morial said. “While the Supreme Court did not rule out a citizenship question, it has rejected the administration’s specious voting rights justification and appears to have cleared the path for a more accurate 2020 Census.”

While the ruling gives the administration an opportunity to offer another justification for the citizenship question, the administration has set a July 1 deadline for printing the census forms, which makes it unlikely the question can be included for 2020.

The National Urban League and other civil rights groups had filed a “friend of the court” brief opposing the citizenship question.

Days after Supreme Court arguments on the citizenship question, news emerged that a political consultant who played a crucial role in the decision to add the question had authored a study concluding that adding the question would allow the drafting of extremely gerrymandered Congressional maps to drain even more influence away from urban communities and communities of color.

Morial, who served as chair of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, cautioned that the citizenship question was one of several potential problems that could produce a significant undercount of Black Americans, including underfunding, understaffing and the practice of prison-based gerrymandering. Under current policy, incarcerated persons are counted in jurisdictions the communities where they are imprisoned rather than in the communities where they live. This represents a massive transfer of political power and federal funding for programs like Head Start, Medicare, Lunch programs and transportation infrastructure, from urban districts of color to rural, prison hosting, predominantly white districts.

He stressed that the National Urban League and the Urban League Movement would continue to work for a fair census and urge participation among Black communities

“An inaccurate census will deprive communities of accurate data for most federally produced statistics, and critical social, demographic and economic research,” Morial said. “It would deprive communities of more than $675 billion in federal funding, and the just enforcement of civil rights laws and constitutional protections like fair housing and voting rights.

“Most importantly, an inaccurate census will deprive communities of fair political representation in the U.S. Congress, the Electoral College and state and local legislatures,” he said.