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For Immediate Release


David Vance (202) 736-5712 or

Press Release

Common Cause Files Supreme Court Brief in Census Citizenship Case & Launches Census Day of Action


Today, Common Cause, along with former elected and appointed Republican officials, will file an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in Ross v. New York challenging the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 census. The government watchdog also launched the next phase in its “Count Me In 2020 Campaign” for a fair and accurate census. Common Cause called on its 1.12 million members to celebrate April 1, 2019 as a Census Day of Action by fighting for adequate census funding from our federal and state governments and getting involved in grassroots organizations who are dedicated to ensuring that everyone gets counted. Members across the country are calling their representatives in Congress to urge them to support the Census IDEA Act and to fully fund the 2020 census.

“Americans expect and deserve a fair and accurate census that counts every resident and adding a citizenship question will undercut participation and the accuracy of the count and flout the intentions and guarantees of the United States Constitution,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “Common Cause and our more than one million members are urging Congress and the United States Supreme Court to protect the integrity and the accuracy of the census by ensuring every resident is counted as prescribed in the Constitution.”

Common Cause is an integral part of the preparations for the 2020 Census, including appointment to several statewide Complete Count Commissions, including Colorado, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

“In order for every community to receive the representation and resources it deserves, we need a fair and accurate count in 2020,” said Keshia Morris, Census and Mass Incarceration Project Manager. “Today, we call on members to contact their state legislators and Members of Congress and demand that they support efforts for a fair count.”

A fair and accurate census requires more than on-the-ground volunteers and sufficient funding. Common Cause, along with many allies, is fighting for commonsense policy protections for the census. The addition of the citizenship question has forced Common Cause and others to take that fight to the courts as well.

The brief filed today in the Supreme Court argues that the Framers, as further clarified by the Fourteenth Amendment, envisioned the census as a count of every person living in the United States regardless of whether they were a citizen or eligible to vote. This full count is crucial to the system of representation on which our nation was founded. Everyone living in the United States is entitled to equal representation under law, regardless of who they are, whether they are a citizen or ineligible to vote. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’s addition of the citizenship question will cause undercounts in areas with large non-citizen populations resulting in a Congress that will not be equally apportioned by population, thus the question should be removed, the brief states.  

The Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment decisively rejected apportionment based on a privileged subset of the whole population, choosing to cement the Constitution’s commitment to apportionment based on total population, without regard to citizenship or enfranchisement.

The case will be heard by the Supreme Court on April 23, 2019. This case is an appeal from the Northern District of New York, where Judge Jesse Furman found that Secretary Ross violated the Administrative Procedure Act in ordering the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. In addition to hearing arguments about the Administrative Procedure Act, the Court has asked for briefing and argument on the Enumeration Clause violation found by the District Court for Northern District of California. Fellow amici include New Hampshire State Representative Jody L. McNally, (R-District 10 Stratford), retired Republican Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court Robert Orr and former Republican Federal Election Commission Chair Trevor Potter, and California Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission members Gil Ontai and Peter Yao, who signed in their individual capacity.

To read the brief, click here.

To view this release online, click here.


Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.

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