Reprinted with permission from John R. Stoeffler
In 1980 Missouri lost a representative in Congress leaving us with nine. Preliminary estimates point to the distinct possibility that following the 2010 census Missouri will lose yet another seat in the House of Representatives. What is going on? This year the Census Bureau’s “long form” will be replaced by what is called the “American Community Survey.” Unlike the Bureau’s long form the Community Survey will be randomly mailed to three million households each year for ten years. Among the 47 questions asked is individual question number 8: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” As with the old long form the ACS questionnaire will only ask 16 percent of those residing in this country if they are U.S. citizens.
Another change will find every household being mailed the Census Bureau’s “short form.” This form asks ten questions including the number of people residing at that residence, the race of the individual completing the form, and that individual’s sex. What remains unchanged is that the questionnaire doesn’t ask if the individual completing the form and those residing with him or her are U.S. citizens. Bottom line, 84 percent of those residing in the U.S. will never be asked about their citizenship status, a mistake that has political repercussions not only for Missouri but other states as well.
The Constitution requires a census be taken every ten years to obtain a count of “persons” in each state for the purposes of “apportioning”, that is determining, the number of political representatives each state shall have in the U.S. House of Representatives. This requirement was included in the Constitution by the Founders to insure equality of political representation.
The manner in which the Commerce Department’s Bureau of the Census interprets the “Census Clause” of the Fourteenth Amendment is cause for concern in that political representation of Citizens is being distorted by including non-citizens in the census count and using those numbers for reapportionment. Adherence to this policy enhances the unmistakable probability that representatives in the United States House will continue to be elected to office from areas with fast growing populations of non-citizens thereby diluting the political clout of Americans.
What should be done?
First, Missouri’s congressional delegation needs to recognize that the Constitution neither requires nor prohibits the counting of aliens.
Second, they must acknowledge that while current policy is based on the position that the “Census Clause” of the Fourteenth Amendment requires all persons whose “usual residence” is in a state be included, neither “resident” nor “residence” appears in the constitutional language.
Third, members of Missouri’s congressional delegation must recognize and point out to their colleagues in Congress that the final word on how the census shall be conducted lies with Congress, such authority being provided for in the Constitution. 3.
Fourth, in order to protect the political rights of citizens Congress needs to instruct the Bureau of the Census that henceforth for the purpose of determining the number and distribution of elected representatives only Citizens shall be counted. Counted, not estimated.
If Congress were to initiate a change in census policy to count only those who are citizens for the purpose of reapportionment you can bet the ranch someone or some group would file a challenge in federal court. Undoubtedly, plaintiffs would assert that such a change would deny non-citizens “due process,” but such a charge would be without merit.
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t lead to the conclusion that all aliens are entitled to the advantages of citizenship. For example, they can’t vote 4. or hold elective office. 5. If a change of policy were ordered by Congress that forbade counting non-citizens for the purpose of determining political representation it would in no way disenfranchise any individual or group of persons. Nor would such a change diminish any protection to which they are entitled as guests of the citizens and government of the United States. 6.
As I see it, the current method of apportioning representatives in Congress is, to be charitable, disgraceful as it discriminates not only against every Missourian but every American.
How the 2010 Census will be conducted needs the immediate attention of Congress. Two years ago I raised this issue with Senator Bond, then Senator Talent and Congressman Akin. Regrettably, the silence was deafening. This is an issue too important to Missouri to wait another day.
1. Testimony of John Keane, Hearing on Enumeration of Undocumented Aliens in the Decennial Census before the Subcommittee on Energy, Nuclear Proliferation, and Government Processes of the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, 99th Congress, 13 (1985)
2. Charles Wood, “Losing Control of America’s Future,” Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 22, No. 2 (1999) Ref. FN 13, Remaking the Political Landscape – How Immigration Redistributes Seats in the House, (Backgrounder No. 2-98, Center for Immigration Studies, Washington, D.C. 1998)
3. See Fourteenth Amendment, Sec. 2 and 5
4. U.S. Constitution, Amendment XV, Sec. 1.; Amendment XIX; Amendment XXVI, Sec. 1.
5. U.S. Constitution, Article I, Sec. 2 ; Article II, Sec. 1.
6. U.S. Constitution, Amendment XIV.