Census Case: Why a Measure of Citizenry Won’t Add a Query on Citizenship


Professor Martin S. Flaherty was quoted in The Christian Science Monitor regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to block a proposed citizenship question to be asked in next year’s census.

The so-called Hofeller files, which came out after the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case, triggered a new claim from plaintiffs in Maryland that adding the citizenship question would also violate the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause by disadvantaging Hispanics. Earlier this week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit sent the case back to the Maryland district court in order to evaluate the new claim.

The court “refused to ignore the obvious backstory that resulted in the addition of a question that would have caused a significant undercounting of people of color, among others,” says Martin Flaherty, co-director of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham University in New York.

With today’s Supreme Court decision, the Maryland case is now effectively paused – as is a citizenship question case being litigated in California – pending new action by the New York district judge whose decision the justices reviewed.

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