California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced he has sued the Trump Administration over its decision to insert a question about citizenship into the 2020 census.
Becerra filed the suit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The state attorney general argues that asking census respondents whether they are citizens could result in an undercount of California residents, thus risking the state’s congressional representation and allotment of federal funding.
“An accurate census count sets in motion the services and benefits that shape the future of every Californian. The census constitutes the backbone for planning how and where our communities will invest taxpayer dollars,” Becerra said in a statement. “California simply has too much to lose to allow the Trump Administration to botch this important decennial obligation. What the Trump Administration is requesting is not just alarming, it is an unconstitutional attempt to disrupt an accurate census count.”
Becerra’s suit alleges the citizenship question violates Article I, section 2 of the Constitution, which requires the “actual enumeration of all people in each state every ten years.” Likewise, the suit alleges the question violates the Administrative Procedure Act’s prohibition against “arbitrary and capricious” agency action.
Since 1790, the census has counted both citizens and non-citizens, Becerra stated in a press release.
However, the Commerce Department contradicted that claim in a press release it issued Monday. Between 1820 and 1950, almost every decennial census asked a question on citizenship in some form, the Commerce Department stated.
The Commerce Department, which is delegated the authority to determine census questions, said it is adding a citizenship question to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.