The U.S. Supreme Court effectively rejected the Trump administration’s justification for a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. That means the question may – or may not – end up on the Census.

The lawsuit over the citizenship question could make its way back through the courts, though it’s unclear if any decisions will be made in time to put the question back into the 2020 questionnaire.  The Census is supposed to start in April of next year.


Thursday’s Supreme Court decision is welcome news to some in Rhode Island who worry a citizenship question could lead to a dramatic undercount of residents -- threatening billions of dollars in federal money and increasing the likelihood the state could lose a congressional seat. 


“The Census Bureau’s own research showed that if the citizenship question were on the form, there would be a significant undercount in Rhode Island and all across the country,” said John Marion, head of the good-government Common Cause of Rhode Island.


Marion is also helping lead efforts to ensure full participation in the 2020 Census by Rhode Island residents as part of a group called the Complete Count Committee. Marion said the group’s mandate remains largely the same despite the Supreme Court decision.

“It’s probably true that some damage has already been done and there are some people that won’t respond to the census simply because of the fact that an attempt was made to put a citizenship question on there,” Marion said.


State, federal and private funds -- totaling more than a million dollars -- are set to be spent in Rhode Island to encourage residents to fill out the 2020 census.