Nobody will write songs about the census. Among the fabled pillars underpinning the country’s democracy, the great American head count is often relegated to a dusty corner. In the nine interstitial years between each tally, analysis and development of a more perfect instrument take place mostly hidden from public view. There have been only 22 U.S. censuses—Presidents Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson never administered one—but the rarity of the event has not assigned it a special blue-moon-like significance among the public. For most people, the census is a vague, decennial annoyance, nothing more. But the census is vital to the country’s functioning. It’s not just a count of all households or a measure of American characteristics. It’s also an augur of political, economic, and cultural forces—a predictor and an allocator of power. In times of social upheaval—between political parties, whites and nonwhites, urban and rural areas, economic elites and the working class—the census can function almost like an umpire. And today, when each of these intertwined conflicts is escalating, the incentive and ambition for working the ref are greater than they’ve ever been.
That controversy has spilled over to the courts, too. Last Thursday, in a ruling allowing 18 states to continue with a lawsuit against the Commerce Department, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of Manhattan essentially confirmed the worries of the proposal’s opponents: He doubted Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s rationale that the citizenship question is necessary for enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, and he concluded that there was “evidence suggesting that Secretary Ross’s stated rationale for adding the question is pretextual.”
Full Article: The 2020 Census Is in Trouble – The Atlantic.