With the amount of information the U.S. Census gathers every decade, it seems logical that one of the questions asked would be simply, “Are you a citizen of the United States?” Yet the very idea of asking this simple “yes” or “no” question outraged the Left — which is in a headlong rush to offer free stuff to anyone who arrives. And leftists found a judge and a Supreme Court willing to stop the Trump administration from adding this longstanding question back into the 2020 census.
While conventional wisdom held that SCOTUS would grant the administration’s request, the Left’s Hail Mary pass was the unearthing of an unreleased report penned by a now-deceased GOP consultant claiming the citizenship question could assist Republican candidates. Leftists struck pay dirt when a Barack Obama-appointed judge deemed that what’s become known as the Hofeller files — discovered and released by the estranged daughter of the late consultant Thomas Hofeller, who died last year — “raises a substantial issue” regarding the Trump administration’s claim that the question would assist in enforcing the Voting Rights Act. Opponents of the question contend that adding it would reduce responses from minorities despite the fact that citizens are required by law to do so.
As speculated here earlier this month, the ever-capricious Chief Justice John Roberts was the one handed Democrats a victory with another of his weirdly contorted decisions. He aided the Left in at least temporarily blocking the question, which Roberts said was valid but that the Trump administration “did not provide adequate reasoning” for its inclusion.
As The Wall Street Journal explains, “The question in Department of Commerce v. New York was whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acted within his purview in reinstating a citizenship question on the 2020 census. That’s not the question the Court ended up deciding. Instead, the Chief held that although Mr. Ross acted lawfully, his motives appear to have been less than pure.”
In other words, Roberts’s decision had to do with process and motives, not the Constitution.
The Court’s 5-4 decision thus puts the Trump administration in a box: Either conduct the 2020 census without a citizenship question — which will likely pad the population counts (and the congressional representation) of Democrat-controlled districts — or delay the census until the administration can make the correct case for its inclusion.
President Donald Trump has chosen to delay the census. “Seems totally ridiculous that our government, and indeed Country, cannot ask a basic question of Citizenship in a very expensive, detailed and important Census, in this case for 2020,” Trump tweeted. “I have asked the lawyers if they can delay the Census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter. Can anyone really believe that as a great Country, we are not able the ask whether or not someone is a Citizen. Only in America!”
While the Census has been conducted on April 1 since the 1930 counting, historically it’s been conducted as early as January 1 and as late as the first Monday in August, which was its original timeframe. Going back to that initial date would give the courts four more months to figure out the legality. Moreover, states don’t receive the data for redistricting until several months afterward — in this case, early 2021. (The 2010 Tea Party wave election was such a disaster for Democrats at the state level because in several states they had to cede control of post-census redistricting to the Republicans.)
But what if the question were included anyway? Again, even Roberts conceded the question was a valid one, writing “neither respondents nor my colleagues have been able to identify any relevant, judicially manageable limits on the Secretary’s decision to put a core demographic question back on the census.”
Nor is politicizing the census anything new. Readers may recall the Supreme Court denied a Clinton administration bid to conduct the 2000 census with statistical sampling to correct a perceived undercount of minorities and noncitizens. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the Left doesn’t like the idea of simply counting every citizen.
That’s because leftists aim to rig the electoral system. And, for now at least, John Roberts helped them do it.