Why the Stakes Are High for Cook County with Supreme Court’s 2020 Census Case



This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times on April 23, 2019.

By Carrie L. Davis, Director, Democracy Program

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether a question about citizenship will be allowed on the 2020 Census, and early indicators suggest that the question will stand. If so, Cook County must redouble its efforts to ensure we have a full and complete census.

While we don’t yet know for sure how the Supreme Court will rule, what we do know is that many see the citizenship question as a barrier to participation. And for Cook County, this is particularly concerning because we are home to some of the hardest-to-count communities.

Populations that historically have been undercounted include low-income, people of color and immigrants. According to the latest census estimates, approximately 32 percent of Cook County’s population lives in hard-to-count neighborhoods.

Given the recent news that the county lost more population than any other U.S. county between 2017-2018, we really can’t afford an undercount. The population loss poses a socioeconomic challenge to our leaders in reversing this trend and they can’t do that if they don’t have a complete picture of who lives here.

That’s why the stakes for the Supreme Court’s decision are so high.

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

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