Nate Jackson / July 10, 2019

Another Judicial Roadblock to Census Citizenship Question

But it certainly seems that Team Trump has bungled the process and rationale.

The legal wrangling over the citizenship question on the 2020 census took another bizarre turn Tuesday, when U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman ruled that the Justice Department cannot replace nine lawyers working on implementing the question so late in the game without sufficient explanation. With just three days remaining in the appeal process, Furman wrote, “Defendants provide no reasons, let alone ‘satisfactory reasons,’ for the substitution of counsel.” Furman is the same judge who initially blocked the question itself in January, so this is no surprise.

A brief refresher is in order. President Donald Trump called for a question asking about citizenship to be placed on the 2020 census. Given the constitutional mandate for a census in the first place, and the history of such questions having appeared, it seemed reasonable. Yet, the Associated Press reports, “Opponents of the question say it will depress participation by immigrants, lowering the population count in states that tend to vote Democratic and decreasing government funds to those areas because funding levels are based on population counts.”

This is not an inaccurate criticism but it is an illegitimate one. By that we mean, yes, a citizenship question could result in less representation for Democrats. But they don’t want foreign interference in elections, right? So why do they want our very system of representation skewed by noncitizens? The question is rhetorical, of course — they want to rig elections to guarantee leftist rule.

In any event, the charge of “racism” evidently held enough sway to persuade Chief Justice John Roberts to conclude that the process and motivation behind the question was wrong, even if the actual legality of the question itself was perfectly fine.

After the Supreme Court loss, the Trump administration eventually dropped the question only for Trump to reverse that decision. The constantly changing rationale from Trump and other members of the administration seems to be par for the course on this entire effort. “Nobody has any f—king idea” what Trump wants, one official told The Wall Street Journal. The lawyer change is likely an attempt to put other people in charge of arguing the case so as to negate the questions about motivation. But Furman isn’t going to allow it.

The bottom line is that the question is not only entirely legitimate but it should be asked. Unfortunately, the Trump administration seems to have handled the process so poorly that critics were able to persuade judges to block the whole thing.

Footnote: The Washington Times reports, “Two-thirds of voters approve of a citizenship question on the 2020 census, and that includes [55%] of Hispanic voters.”

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