Groups Want Delay from SCOTUS on Citizenship Census Question

By | 2019-06-13T08:03:53-07:00 June 13th, 2019|
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The groups challenging the Trump Administration’s additional citizenship question on the 2020 census want the Supreme Court to delay their decision in light of new evidence.

In a court filing, immigrant advocacy groups represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said that a judge in New York should review the evidence before the Supreme Court decides the legal question.

Challengers say newly uncovered documents show the administration concealed its true motives and that the move to add the question is aimed at boosting Republicans’ electoral power.

It’s not clear if that is the exclusive motivation for adding the question, only that it’s a possible consequence of adding the question. But opponents say “the administration hid the fact that Thomas Hofeller, a longtime Republican specialist on drawing electoral districts, played a ‘significant role’ in planning the citizenship question.” Is that relevant to the question as to whether the administration has the authority to add the question?

The opponents took their concern to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in New York, claiming the administration concealed Hofeller’s information and Furman has requested to be briefed. If the SCOTUS decides by the end of June, it would be before the District Court would get the requested briefing.

Hofeller, who died in 2018, concluded in a 2015 study that asking a citizenship question “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” in redistricting, the plaintiffs said.

Hofeller ghost-wrote a draft letter from the Department of Justice to the Department of Commerce asking for a citizenship question on the grounds it would help enforce voting rights, according to the plaintiffs.

Does this somehow “prove” the question shouldn’t be on the census? It’s been on the census before and it is currently asked in the Census Bureau’s on-going American Community Survey. According to the Census Bureau:

Citizenship originated with the 1820 Census, place of birth originated with the 1850 Census, and year of entry originated with the 1890 Census. They transferred to the ACS in 2005 when it replaced the decennial census long form.

The government responded to the advocacy groups’ request for a delay in its filing: “The motion borders on frivolous, and appears to be an attempt to reopen the evidence in this already-closed case and to drag this court into plaintiffs’ eleventh-hour campaign to improperly derail the Supreme Court’s resolution of the government’s appeal,” their response reads.

The Supreme Court could make a decision in June.

(Photo by Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

About the Author:

Liz Sheld
Liz Sheld is a veteran political strategist and pollster who has worked on campaigns and public interest affairs. She has written at Breitbart and The Federalist, as well as at PJ Media, where she currently writes "The Morning Briefing." In her spare time, she shoots sporting clays and watches documentaries.