Despite him already getting to appoint two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, it ruled against President Donald Trump this Thursday as their current term drew to a close. The court decided that their explanation for adding a question about respondents’ citizenship to the census was insufficient, and the question is therefore on hold for now, at least. Although the majority of the court tends conservative, swing vote and Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the court’s four liberals in this case.
Discussing the Administrative Procedures Act’s insistence that the government provide a reasoned decision for its actions, he shared:
‘Accepting contrived reasons would defeat the very purpose of the enterprise.’
He called the explanation the government had offered “more of a distraction.” Census forms for the next undertaking are set to begin printing very soon, so this could essentially be the end of the road for their efforts, especially if a Democrat gets elected president next year. They certainly won’t continue an effort to get the question added.
Experts from the U.S. Census Bureau itself claim that adding the citizenship question could spark households corresponding to a full 6.5 million people staying away from the census altogether, which is meant to measure the population of the United States, not those who are citizens. Advocates in favor of the measure have wheeled out arguments like protecting the Voting Rights Act by supposedly more accurately reflecting actual voting populations when using census numbers to apportion Congressional seats across the United States, but adding the citizenship question is not necessary for that. People are already counted who won’t vote including all those under the age of 18, and there are already numerous other pieces of legislation on the books protecting voter rights, the integrity of the electoral system, and so on. President Trump’s claims about millions of illegal votes getting cast flatly have no basis in reality.
Still, he’s continuing with them. Evidence has emerged — which the Supreme Court did not rule on — in the course of the citizenship question case indicating that it was founded on racism and partisan animosity against Democrats from the get-go, not on some kind of concern for voting rights in the United States. The since deceased Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller concluded in 2015 that the question “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”
It’s part of a wide trend of Republicans attempting similar efforts like the failed “voter purge” that culminated in the resignation of the acting Secretary of State in Texas just last month.
Unfortunately, on the same day that the Supreme Court dismissed the Trump administration’s attempt to get the citizenship question on the census, they ruled in favor of Republican efforts to draw obviously political party-favoring districts across the country. The majority concluded that the court could not intervene in the issue, although other challenges are still available to those concerned. These options include state court challenges and an ongoing case alleging racial discrimination behind a particular Congressional district map in North Carolina.
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