ASA Leads Amicus Brief on Census Citizenship Question

The American Statistical Association has filed a joint amicus brief to the Supreme Court for the case considering the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 census. Also filed by the American Sociological Association, Population Association of America, and American Library Association, the brief—in support of the decision by the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York reversing Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’s decision to add the question—argues the “addition of a citizenship question in this hurried manner imperils the bureau’s enduring role as a leading statistical agency … [and] threatens the integrity of census data, which influences everything from the operation of our economy to the fairness of our democracy.”

The brief’s argument makes the following two main points:

  1. The department’s last-minute addition of a citizenship question was inconsistent with Census Bureau standards and unnecessarily threatens the integrity of census data.
    1. The bureau abandoned its longstanding practice of following proper statistical procedures, which preclude adding questions to the census without thorough planning and field testing.
    2. The citizenship question will reduce response rates while generating incomplete and inaccurate answers.
  2. The accuracy and reliability of census data are of vital public importance and seriously threatened by inclusion of the citizenship question.

The Supreme Court hearing on this case is scheduled for April 23, with a decision expected in June.

More ASA coverage on the 2020 Census: