Last week, the Supreme Court, the highest law in the U.S., ruled that the Trump administration had provided a “contrived” reason for wanting the citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
It is already well known that Republicans want a citizenship question to create an advantage for their party and non-Hispanic whites, especially afterRepublican redistricting strategist Thomas Hofeller died in August without much fanfare – until his files showed what many have long guessed — a 2015 study concluded that a citizenship question to the 2020 Census “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and would benefit “Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”
The true purpose of the question would not be to enforce the Voting Rights Act, as Republicans have tried to say.
Even so, President Donald Trump fired off a series of tweets that sent government lawyers scrambling on Thursday to try and find a way forward for the citizenship question.
A federal judge in Maryland overseeing one of three lawsuits on the citizenship question has given the Trump administration until 2 p.m. Friday to explain how it intends to proceed with explaining why the question is legal.
The government has already begun printing the census forms without the question, and that process will continue, administration officials told the Washington Post.
The critiques of adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census are many and convincing. Adding it would likely lead to a severe undercount of immigrants. That could limit federal funding to some communities that are in dire need of it and skew congressional redistricting to favor Republicans – also known as gerrymandering.
The main players fighting against adding the question do not see a way forward for the question.
“What were they going to say?” Dale Ho, director of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union and a lead attorney for plaintiffs in the New York lawsuit, told the Washington Post. “‘Here’s our real reason? Or here’s a new reason?’ Well, that’s kind of reverse engineering on a decision that’s already been made, which was the very definition of pretextual… We had them in an inevitable checkmate.”