In the wake of every United States Census but one, Congress has undergone a process known as “reapportionment”: the reallotment of congressional seats available to each state proportionate to its share of the national population as recorded by the (Constitution mandated) decennial census. The census of 1920 was the first-ever exception, and now, a century later, 2020 threatens to be the second.
Kenneth Prewitt is the Carnegie Professor in Columbia University’s public policy school. Prewitt has also served as the president of the Social Science Research Council, senior vice-president of the Rockefeller Foundation, and the director of the US Census Bureau (1998–2001). He now serves as the Advisory Committee chair of DBASSE, the social science division of the National Academies of Sciences; as president of the American Academy of Social & Political Science; and as a NORC Trustee at the University of Chicago. He is the author of What Is Your Race? The Census and Our Flawed Effort to Classify Americans (Princeton, 2013).