ACLU Sues Commerce Department Over Census Citizenship Question

Another lawsuit has been filed over the inclusion of a citizenship question on the upcoming census.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was among several groups that have filed a lawsuit against the Commerce Department over the agency’s decision to reinstate a citizenship status question on the upcoming 2020 Census.

“The addition of the citizenship question is a naked act of intentional discrimination directed at immigrant communities of color that is intended to punish their presence, avoid their recognition, stunt their growing political power, and deprive them and the communities in which they live of economic benefits,” reads a statement in the lawsuit.

The Commerce Department announced that it would include the citizenship question to help enforce the Voting Rights Act. The Justice Department and courts use the citizenship data for the enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights, and the conclusion was reached that having citizenship data at the census block level will permit more effective enforcement of this law.

However, the decision to include the question has prompted a political backlash since the decision was reported publicly. Some in Congress, such as Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) have introduced legislation to block the question, and several states said that they planned to sue the government over inclusion of the question.

The ACLU lawsuit is the latest effort to have the question removed from the census. A copy of the lawsuit is included below.

NYIC v. Department of Commerce

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.