Justice Breyer Encourages New Yorkers to Complete Census in Rare PSA

Justice Breyer Encourages New Yorkers to Complete Census in Rare PSA
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer poses during an interview with Agence France-Presse at the Supreme Court in Washington, on May 17, 2012. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)
Janita Kan

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has appeared in a rare public service announcement to encourage New Yorkers to fill out the 2020 Census.

In a brief video released by NYC Census 2020 on April 13, Breyer urged people to take the questionnaires seriously, saying the information is vital to the country.

"Today, I want to encourage you to fill out your census forms," the 81-year-old justice said in the video. "How many representatives your state has in Congress depends on the answers to those questions."

The U.S. Constitution mandates a census every 10 years. The data collected helps determine congressional representation, the drawing of electoral districts, and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funds.

During the video, Breyer emphasized how important the census was to New Yorkers who are at the U.S. epicenter of the CCP virus pandemic, which has resulted in lockdowns that have devastated New York City's economy. More than 10,000 deaths in the state have been attributed to the virus.

"New York has been going through a very difficult time with coronavirus, just terrible," he said. "The amount of health care aid, of hospital aid, of emergency aid, of school aid, for New York and every other state depends upon the answers to your questionnaires."

Last year, the Trump administration pushed to add a question to the census form about citizenship, arguing that it was needed to gather data to help enforce the Voting Rights Act. That sparked a court battle that made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which blocked the question from being added to the census in a 5–4 ruling in June last year.
In response to the current public health emergency, Supreme Court justices have retreated from public view and are mainly working from home, after the court was closed to the public last month. In recent days, Breyer has appeared publicly while working from home in a video conference chat with students last week. His interview with The Wall Street Journal about life amid the pandemic was published earlier this month.

U.S. residents have until Aug. 14 to complete the questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail.