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Amicus Brief

Department of Commerce v. New York

A proposal by the U.S. Department of Commerce to include a new citizenship question in the 2020 census under the guise of enforcing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) threatened to undermine an accurate census by undercounting the communities the VRA was designed to protect. The SPLC joined others filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court after a lower court’s decision to bar inclusion of the question was appealed to the high court.

In the brief, the advocacy groups noted that inclusion of a citizenship question would harm communities by deterring responses, resulting in an undercount and “leading to a dilution of their voting power and underrepresentation at all levels of government.” The brief urges the Supreme Court to affirm the lower court’s decision. On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court left the question blocked, noting that “we cannot ignore the disconnect between the decision made and the explanation given” by the Department of Commerce for the question.