Census Reform Could Aid African-American Communities

Leadership for the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) participated in a hearing convened today by the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice regarding the inclusion of a citizenship status question in the 2020 Census.

PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams spoke in favor of the planned return of the question to its former rate of circulation on Friday, citing improved enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and curbing the “foreign influences” in the American political system.

Excerpts from Adams’ prepared remarks:

The Trump Administration’s decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census is the right decision. Justice Department officials charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Actwill enjoy more precise citizen population data and thus enhance enforcement of civil rights laws. A census that collects robust citizenship data also will give policy makers the tools to curb the real, everyday foreign influences in our political system – namely ending political subsidies in legislative bodies for areas with large alien populations.

Returning the citizenship question to the Census also will potentially aid African-American communities who have suffered and lost political representation when legislative line drawers do not have precise and robust citizenship data.

Adams explains in detail his own experiences as a former Justice Department attorney when limited citizenship datasets for smaller jurisdictions impacted the ability to clearly determine if minority vote dilution was occurring. He commends Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore for taking charge on the critical reform:

Some have attacked President Trump’s decision to collect robust citizenship data in the 2020 Census and questioned the justifications for that improvement made by Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore, namely that it would help enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. As I have shown in the Lake Park case, those critics are flat wrong. Mr. Gore is squarely correct. Collecting robust citizenship data in the 2020 Census aids enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

Adams originally praised the March 2018 announcement regarding the inclusion of the citizenship question, noting at the time: “Only citizens should be given political power. Our current system leads to noncitizens being allocated political power in legislatures at the expense of citizens … This carries the nation one step closer to preventing against actual foreign influences in our elections.”

A copy of Adams’ prepared remarks can be found, here.

Archived video footage of the hearing has been made available here, courtesy of the House Judiciary Committee.