Support the Constitution: Vote NO on the Vitter Amendment

Media 10.8.09

Recipient: U.S. Senate

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, representing more than 200 member organizations, we are writing to urge your opposition to the Vitter amendment to the Commerce Justice and Science FY10 Appropriations. LCCR believes that an accurate census count is a vital civil rights objective and is deeply committed to ensuring that the Census Bureau provides our nation with the most accurate population count.

The Vitter amendment is unconstitutional. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution clearly states that the apportionment of members of the House of Representatives is based on a full count of residents in each state. This amendment was enacted in part to repeal the provisions of Article I in the Constitution, which counted slaves as only three-fifths of a person for apportionment purposes. The Vitter amendment evokes this shameful legacy.

The Vitter amendment will intimidate individuals from participating in the Census. Asking about immigration status in the 2010 census is unnecessarily intrusive and will raise concerns among all respondents – both native-born and immigrant – about the confidentiality and privacy of information provided to the government. This will deter many residents from responding, and result in an inaccurate Census count.

If enacted, the Vitter amendment would necessitate a change to the form. As a result, the 2010 census count that is underway would be stopped until new forms are printed. This could delay Congressional reapportionment after 2010 and redistricting of congressional and state legislative districts. Ultimately, the Vitter amendment would waste the $7 billion in research, planning, and preparation that has occurred for Census 2010.

LCCR urges you to oppose the Vitter amendment because it is an assault on our Constitution and will cause unnecessary confusion and delay.

Should you require further information or have any questions regarding this issue, please contact LCCR Census Task Force Co-Chairs Terry Ao, Director of Census & Voting Programs at the Asian American Justice Center, at (202) 296-2300 ext.127, or Arturo Vargas, Executive Director at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, at (213) 747-7606, or Corrine Yu, LCCR Senior Counsel and Managing Policy Director, at (202) 466-5670.


Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President