The Potluck

Attorney General Keith Ellison adds Minnesota to coalition fighting Trump on the census

By: - September 1, 2020 9:36 pm

Attorney General Keith Ellison

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison joined a coalition of attorneys general, cities, counties and the U.S. Conference of Mayors Tuesday in a legal action against the Trump administration’s efforts shorten the time it is taking to conduct the 2020 Census.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced in early August that it was reducing the time it takes to count every American by a month. Self-response questionnaires will be accepted and door-to-door interviews will end September 30, a month prior to the original finish date.

The census is conducted every 10 years, as required by the U.S. Constitution.

The coalition Ellison joined filed an amicus brief in National Urban League v. Ross in support of the plaintiffs’ request for a nationwide stay to halt the plan, which they say could lead to an undercount.

“Underlying the right to live with dignity and respect is the principle that everybody counts — no exceptions. This means that literally everybody must be counted in the Census, as our constitution requires,” Ellison said in a release issued Tuesday.

Certain groups are traditionally undercounted, including people of color, the homeless, undocumented immigrants and people who move around a lot, experts say.

The stakes are high for Minnesota, which is on the bubble of states that could lose a congressional district from the current eight to seven. Although Minnesota has gained population in the past decade, it has grown slower than other states, mostly in the Sun Belt.

The federal government also doles out trillions of dollars based on population formulas derived from the census.

Minnesota traditionally has one of the highest rates of self-reporting in the nation, but overall nearly four out of 10 Americans had yet to be counted as of early August, NPR reported.

U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham released a statement in early August saying the bureau’s latest plan, which included hiring more employees, would “accelerate the completion of data collection and apportionment counts by our statutory deadline of December 31, 2020, as required by law and directed by the Secretary of Commerce.”


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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.