President Trump’s very public fight to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census appears to be over. What was the hullabaloo about? It was about Trump’s effort to revive this question for the 2020 census:
(I say revive because the question was on every census from 1820 to 1950, with the exception of the 1840 census.)
In my humble opinion, it doesn’t seem like a crazy thing to want to know how many citizens and noncitizens are living in the United States, or to see how that ratio changes over time. After all, it’s complicated trying to govern 327 million people!
And in any event, it’s certainly no more crazy than asking people if they’re Hispanic, which has been on the form since 1970,
or what their race is, which has been on the form since 1790.
I’m neither a Constitutional scholar nor a civics expert, but I think the decision to add a citizenship question to the census is up to the Executive branch, which is responsible for administering the census in the first place.
And yet, this is just more of the same. The same entrenched bureaucracy fighting tooth and nail against any effort by Trump to dislodge the status quo. At this point, I would have been more surprised if this had not become a massive battle in the courts.
In the end, Trump’s “loss” looks to be more academic than real as it appears that other data sources will permit the government to get at much of the same information that the proposed census question would have reached. And one day, when there’s a Democratic President again, I wonder if she or he will be pleased as Republicans use these very same judicial precedents to check his/her Executive powers. Somehow, I doubt it.