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Attorney General Hunter Leads 18-State Effort in Support of Citizenship Question for 2020 Census

Attorney General Hunter Leads 18-State Effort in Support of Citizenship Question for 2020 Census

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter has led an 18-state coalition in filing a brief in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York supporting the U.S. Department of Commerce’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit which is attempting to prevent the Census Bureau from including a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. 

In the brief, Attorney General Hunter and his colleagues discuss the history of the census dating back to Ancient Egypt, argue the legal basis for including the question and highlight the significant benefits of the question. 

Attorney General Hunter said the lawsuit and ongoing fears about the citizenship question on the 2020 census are overblown and unfounded.

“For the census to not collect data about citizenship makes no sense,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Those opposing the question stand to disadvantage minority communities and make fair legislative redistricting more difficult. Further, the fear that data could be used for other purposes than analyzing the population are groundless. All responses are protected by the law and cannot be used for other purposes. Improper use of the census information is punishable by fines and prison time. Those spreading fear about the citizenship question should instead be informing people about the facts: no adverse legal action can result from truthfully answering the census.”

The brief summarizes the history of the citizenship question in the U.S. Census, explaining that it has been asked in one form or another during almost every census since 1820. 

“In total, the federal government has asked a resident whether he is a citizen of this country more than a billion times since 1820. Given this nearly unbroken history of asking about citizenship … Plaintiffs’ assertion that it violates the U.S. Constitution to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census is remarkable.”

The brief also points to previous court decisions where the same claim was already rejected more than a century ago. 

“This time, Plaintiffs argue that the federal government lacks the constitutional authority to ask its residents whether or not they are citizens of this country,” the brief reads. “This argument has been twice rejected, once at the dawn of the 20th century and then again at the turn of the 21st. It is also inconsistent with centuries of executive branch practice. Because precedent controls the outcome of this case, this court should grant defendants’ motion to dismiss.”

In addition to Attorney General Hunter, the brief was signed by attorneys general from: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, as well as the governors of Kentucky and Maine.

To read the brief, click here.