A Little Clarification About the Census & the Constitution

There’s lots of argument these days about what American residents will be asked on the upcoming 2020 census. Trump and the GOP want to ask every person what their citizenship is and the Democrats say no. The question ended up in the SCOTUS and they ruled 5-4 that the question of citizenship could not be asked.

The argument seems to center on the one side wanting to count just bonified American citizens and the other side insisting, as the Constitution demands, that all residents, including aliens, legal or not, be counted. The founding fathers wanted a decennial count that determined the total number of people living in America, regardless of their legal status. Note that they want the “total” number of residents, people living here and not a count of citizens.

In 1868 this idea was further clarified with the passage of the 14th Amendment. Section 2 of that amendment reads that, “the respective Numbers” of the “several States” will be determined by “counting the whole number of persons in each State… excluding Indians not taxed…” The “whole number” means just what it says, count everyone living in the nation.

You can learn for yourself why an accurate count is so necessary and why the two opposing sides feel the way they do. For me, the greatest concern is this being yet another example of Trump and his followers ignoring what the Constitution requires. If Trump were to get his way it would be one step more on the road away from the rule of law.  Unfortunately, we are already too far down that path!

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