Political News

Justice Stephen Breyer appears in PSA on census and coronavirus

Posted April 13, 2020 9:46 a.m. EDT

— Justice Stephen Breyer has released a rare public service announcement urging individuals to fill out their census questionnaires, emphasizing how vital the information will be as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

"Today, I want to encourage you to fill out your census forms," he said in a brief on camera video, presumably taped while he has been holed up in his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The video was first reported by the New York Daily News.

"How many representatives your state has in Congress, depends on the answers to those questions," the 81-year-old justice said in the announcement released by NYC Census 2020.

"A lot depends upon it," he added.

Seated before a bookcase and holding a copy of the Constitution, Breyer said that "New York has been going through a very difficult time -- with coronavirus, just terrible."

"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," he said.

Last term the Supreme Court -- splitting 5-4 -- blocked a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census. Breyer voted with the majority.

Breyer's PSA comes as the Supreme Court justices, like most of the country, have retreated from public view as the court decides how to handle more than 20 cases that have been postponed due to the pandemic as well as pending opinions on issues such as abortion, the Second Amendment and LGBT rights.

Unlike the chief justice, or other members of the Court, Breyer has appeared publicly in recent days -- conducting a Zoom chat with students, and a telephone interview with The Wall Street Journal.

In the Zoom chat, Breyer offered students a glimpse of the court and its private negotiations. He spoke about how the court works behind the scenes and the impact of past cases like Bush v. Gore.

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