During the legal battle over the inclusion of a citizenship question on the census, Trump’s DOJ has continually urged the courts to make a quick decision because time is running out on printing the questionnaires for 2020 and it would be illegal to delay it. Now Trump is threatening to do exactly what his own DOJ said was illegal.
Here’s what’s at stake and how dishonest Trump and the GOP have been in hiding their real motive for including the question:
Last week, the Supreme Court threw President Donald Trump’s plan to rig the 2020 Census into chaos by temporarily blocking the administration from including a citizenship question. The justices left open the possibility that the question would be constitutional, if the administration can convince a lower court they have a reason for the change that is not “contrived” — although with census forms needing to be printed within weeks, Trump has almost no time to do this.
Faced with this obstacle, Trump told reporters on Monday that he is now “looking at” just delaying the census altogether until he can push the case through federal court. The problem is that delaying the census is unconstitutional — and it’s not just liberals who say so. As CNN’s Pamela Brown noted, Trump’s own Justice Department has spent weeks telling the Supreme Court there is no legal way to delay the census.
The census is a massively important government undertaking, and the count is used to determine everything from how many congressional districts each state gets, to how much federal funding is appropriated for roads, schools, and hospitals, to where businesses can open new offices and create jobs. Experts have broadly warned that asking about citizenship — which can already be estimated using other methods — will result in fewer people responding to the census, which would mean states and communities that skew toward minorities and Democrats could lose representation and funding.
The administration initially claimed that the citizenship question is necessary to enforce the Voting Rights Act. But leaked communications, as well as the files from a deceased GOP operative’s laptop, suggest that the administration deliberately wants to cause an undercount to shift more voting power to white, Republican voters. These revelations ultimately persuaded the Supreme Court to put the brakes on the scheme.
It’s just another way, along with gerrymandering, photo ID requirements and gutting the Voting Rights Act, that the GOP is using to suppress the votes of minority voters and lock in an unfair advantage for Republicans in elections. It’s the sole reason why they control 2/3 of all state legislatures. Take away those factors and, according to actual vote totals and polling data, Democrats would hold far more seats in the US House and state legislatures. The GOP knows this is the only way they can maintain majority control of the government.