Supreme Court Blocks Census Citizenship Question

June 27, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the citizenship question from inclusion on the 2020 Census, upholding the result reached in a lower court. The Court ruled that the Commerce Department's decision to collect citizenship data "cannot be adequately explained" by the rationale provided by the agency. "Altogether, the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the Secretary gave for his decision," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. Although the Court gave the Commerce Department a second chance to provide a "reasoned explanation" for the citizenship question, the government has said that it must begin printing forms by July 1—four days from now. EPIC is separately seeking to block the Census Bureau's collection of citizenship data because the agency has failed to complete required privacy impact assessments. A decision is expected soon from the D.C. Circuit. EPIC's case is EPIC v. Commerce, No. 19-5031 (D.C. Cir). EPIC also filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case, joined by 23 legal scholars and technical experts, warning that "collecting citizenship status information from hundreds of millions of U.S. residents presents enormous privacy and security concerns." EPIC said further "in failing to assess the risks that would result from the collection of personal data regarding citizenship status, the Census Bureau has violated its obligations under the E-Government Act."

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