Sunday July 14, 2019
Census and Sensibility
A good rundown by Charles Bethea on the past few week's between the courts, the DOJ and mostly our idiot president on whether to include a citizenship question on the 2020 cenus. But read the whole piece. It's about longtime GOP gerrymanderer Thomas Hofeller and his estranged daughter, Stephanie, who has real problems of her own, but who's fought her father much of her life. And the info she found on four of Hofeller's external harddrives and 18 of his thumb drives after his death helped the U.S. Supreme Court, or at least Chief Justice John Roberts, side with justice.
In late June, the Supreme Court ruled, in Rucho v. Common Cause, that the federal judiciary did not have the authority to stop legislators from drawing district maps in order to maximize partisan advantage. It was a 5–4 decision, split along ideological lines, with the conservative Justices all in support. Later that day, the Court issued its ruling on the census case. It was another 5–4 decision, but, this time, Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion for both of the cases, sided with the liberal wing of the court, concluding that the Commerce Department's stated reason for adding a citizenship question—that it would help the department enforce the Voting Rights Act—“seems to have been contrived.” ...
It appears likely that Roberts's deciding vote was influenced by the evidence that Hofeller brought to light. “Chief Justice Roberts is somebody who is very concerned with the institutional reputation of the Court, and the Hofeller documents—which the Court was clearly aware of—cast so much doubt about the government's stated reasons for wanting a citizenship question,” Michael Li, the election-law specialist, told me. “It just smelled and felt like something was wrong.”
Then Bethea gets into what happened in the last week or so. Basics:
- The Commerce Department issued a statement that census forms would be printed without a citizenship question
- Hours later, Trump tweeted that reports mentioning this fact were “incorrect or, to state it differently, fake! We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question”
- The DOJ then tried to replace its entire team of lawyers on the case
- Tuesday, a federal judge said no, saying the department's stated reasoning for the wholesale switch was “patently deficient.”
Which leads us to our finale:
Finally, on Thursday afternoon, in a press conference at the Rose Garden, Trump said that his Administration would no longer seek to add a citizenship question, and that he was issuing an executive order that called on the Commerce Department to comb through “all legally accessible records” related to citizenship. (The order appears to demand something that was already taking place.) Trump also said, when speaking of the need for citizenship data, “Some states may want to draw state and local legislative districts, based upon the voter eligible population.” The comment reinforced the impression that adding the citizenship question was always an effort to strengthen the Republican Party's advantage in future redistricting by amplifying the representation of, as Thomas Hofeller put it, non-Hispanic Whites.
Here's to finding more external and zip drives.