CHN: Citizenship Question Out of 2020 Census, Trump Concedes; But Controversy over Citizenship Question Continues

Even though the U.S. Supreme Court in late June put a halt to the Trump Administration’s efforts to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, and President Trump announced on July 11 his Administration would stop pushing for the addition of such a question – controversy over the effort continues.

Last week, on Tuesday, July 16, attorneys for plaintiffs who sued to prevent the citizenship question filed a formal request for U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of New York to consider imposing sanctions on the Trump Administration for allegedly providing misleading statements as part of the multiple lawsuits over the question, which was originally approved by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Administration officials allegedly engaged in conduct that is “nothing less than a fraud on the Court,” plaintiffs’ attorneys with the ACLU and New York Civil Liberties Union argued.

“Through the use of false or misleading testimony, they obscured evidence suggesting that the true purpose of Secretary Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census – suppressing the political power of minority immigrant communities,” the lawyers argued.

Meanwhile, on the evening of Wednesday, July 17, the House voted largely along party lines to hold Ross and Attorney General William Barr in criminal contempt for defying subpoenas for documents relating to their efforts to add the citizenship question. The House approved the contempt measure 230-198, with four Democrats joining all Republicans in voting against the resolution.

Democrats argued that the measure was necessary to hold officials accountable for obstruction and for pursuing efforts to undermine the Census. “The resolution that’s before us today is about protecting our democracy….It is about protecting the integrity of this body – it’s bigger than the Census. It’s about protecting the integrity of the Congress of the United States of America,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Finally, some confusion exists over an executive order issued by President Trump instructing the Social Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies to gather information on citizenship data. The confusion exists in part because Secretary Ross already had directed the Census Bureau to gather that information last year. A recent filing to the White House Office of Management and Budget confirms that Ross has now ordered the Census Bureau to release citizenship data based on those records to state redistricting officials in 2021.

Combined, these actions raise red flags among advocates of democratic reform and fair elections. Why? Because some conservatives in the past have endeavored to base political districts on the number of citizens who live in the districts as opposed to the number of persons. The result of such maneuvering is to dilute the voting power, in particular, of people of color and immigrant communities, resulting in Congressional or other districts that are skewed to over-represent white and more conservative voters.

2020 Census
Citizenship question