Supreme Court Blocks Harmful Question from 2020 Census

June 27, 2019

Chicago – Today, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to block an untested citizenship question onto the 2020 Census—with the caveat that the case will be sent back to the lower courts for additional arguments.

This question—which asks “”Is this person a citizen of the United States?—would disproportionately discourage census participation from immigrant communities and communities of color out of fear that the data collected will be used to target and deport family members. The resulting undercount would have caused these communities to lose electoral power and representation in both state and congressional offices.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is absolutely the correct one, but we cannot let our guard down or think that the issue is settled,” said Maria Whelan, President and CEO of Illinois Action for Children. “The blatantly discriminatory question that the Court blocked today would only have served one purpose—to marginalize already under-resourced communities and deprive them of fair representation in our nation and in our state.”

Without a full and accurate Census count, the state would be in jeopardy of losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for programs such as Child Care, Head Start, SNAP, WIC, and other vital services. Illinois cannot afford to lose funding just as it starts to make strides toward righting its financial stability. Furthermore, these programs are critical for providing low-income families and their children a way out of poverty into their own financial stability.

There must be an accurate and representative count of all residents in the 2020 Census in order for organizations like IAFC to properly serve children and families­ in Illinois. To help ensure a fair, equitable, and inclusive count—and to increase census self-reporting rates—IAFC will embed census outreach and education activities in all aspects of its programs and services in the coming months.


Illinois Action for Children is a catalyst for organizing, developing, and supporting strong families and powerful communities where children matter most.

Illinois Action for Children is a 501(c)3 charitable organization