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Activities Around 2020 Census Citizenship Question

By PAA Web posted 05-30-2019 00:00


On April 23, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Department of Commerce vs New York. At issue us whether a question on citizenship will be included in the 2020 Census. A ruling is expected in mid-to-late June. Judging from the justices' questions and comments, it appears at least four of the justices do not recognize valid grounds for blocking the addition of the citizenship question. Chief Justice Roberts said little during the deliberations - his vote may prove decisive. 

PAA's Action

  • Since the question was proposed in 2018, PAA has been vocal about its opposition to the addition of an untested citizenship question. In the last two years, PAA has conducted the following activities:
  • Issued public statement opposing the question
  • Signed several letters to Congress and the Administration
  • Conducted over 100 meetings with congressional staff
  • Endorsed legislation to preclude any untested question from being added to the decennial census
  • Sponsored a public webinar regarding the origin and implications of he citizenship question
  • Submitted official comments to the Department of Commerce
  • Submitted an amicus brief, along with the American Statistical Association and American Sociological Association , to the U.S. Supreme Court and Southern District Court of New York

Action YOU Can Take

In addition to our actions as an association, many PAA members are eager to as as well. If you are concerned and want to take action you can: 

Contact you U.S representative and Senators
Consider sending an email to your U.S. Representative and Senators urging them to support any congressional action that would preclude the Census Bureau from adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census. This summer, PAA anticipates issuing an action alert when the U.S. House of Representatives considers the Fiscal Year 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill, which contains language precluding the Census Bureau from putting an untested question on the decennial census. However, you do not need to wait for the alert to contact your representative and senators now. 

If you need assistance, please contact Mary Jo Hoeksema, Director, PAA Government and Public Affairs at

Write a letter to the Editor
Consider sending a short letter to the editor of your local newspaper, expressing your opposition to the question and reinforcing the scientific arguments that PAA has made in its statements, and most importantly, the amicus brief. As an example, PAA member Dr. William O'hare recently published a letter to the editor in the Virginian Pilot. Member David A. Swanson, published an article in the summer 2018 PAA Affairs that you can also refer to. PAA has provided talking points you can use to inform your letter. Please refer to your own outlets regarding formatting and submission instructions. If you need assistance, please contact Betsy Alafoginis, PAA Communications and Membership Manager. 

Please be assured PAA will be closely monitoring all related developments and activating its members when there is another opportunity to communicate our collective concerns about the implications of adding an untested citizenship question to the 2020 Census.