Posted by Suher Adi on June 27, 2019 in Blog

The case decided this morning, Department of Commerce v. New York, required the Court to consider whether the Trump Administration violated the Constitution or federal administrative law in adding a citizenship question. In the case, the Trump Administration furthered various reasons for adding a citizenship question to the census, but the Supreme Court, like the lower federal courts, found these reasons to be merely pretextual. For these reasons, the Arab American Institute (AAI) filed an amicus brief in this case which argued that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census was a radical departure from established procedure governing the census.

Further proof of this political motivation was seen through the recently-revealed Hofeller memo, which showed that the addition of the citizenship question was implemented to suppress the count of various hard to count communities across the country. Today, the Court wrote, “Echoing the din of suspicion and distrust that seems to typify modern discourse, the Court declares the Secretary’s memorandum ‘pretextual’ because, ‘viewing the evidence as a whole,’ his explanation that including a citizenship question on the census would help enforce the Voting Rights Act (VRA) ‘seems to have been contrived.’”

In reaction, Executive Director Maya Berry has stated,

“While we welcome today’s ruling, the fight is not over. Along with our partners, we will continue to combat disinformation and ensure an accurate count of Arab Americans in 2020 through the YallaCountMeIn campaign. AAI remains committed to a fair and accurate census, to free and fair elections, and to supporting our democracy.”

For more information on the Arab American Institute and our work on the decennial census, please see the following:

AAI Press Statements

AAI Statement on Hofeller memo, decennial census (May 30, 2019)


AAI Responds to Inclusion of an Untested Citizenship Question on the Decennial Census (March 27, 2018)

AAI Responds to Rejection of the "Middle Eastern or North African" Category from the 2020 Census (January 26, 2018)

AAI Joins 170 Rights Groups to Oppose DOJ's Attempt to Add Citizenship Question to 2020 Census (January 10, 2018)

AAI Resources

AAI's Census Information Center 

Arab American Demographics 

Issue Brief: Ensuring a Fair and Accurate Count in the 2020 Census (2019)
Issue Brief: 2020 Census: Reaching An Accurate Count (2018)

Blog: Yalla, Can We Count You In? (April 2019) 

BlogCommerce Secretary Ross' Testimony to House Oversight Committee (March 2019)

BlogIt’s Not Just the Citizenship Question: How Trump is Playing Politics with the Census (March 2018)

BlogA New MENA Category: The Reality and the Headlines (October 2016)

BlogMaking Sure Arab Americans Count: Adding a MENA Category to the Census (July 2015)