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Citizenship Question to be Added to the Ce...

LFC's Photo LFC 28 March 2018 - 11:19 AM

So the U.S. Dept. of Commerce is re-adding the citizenship question back to the 2020 census form. It last appeared in 1950. I understand the outcome that the Democrats are fighting, saying it will suppress response, but I don't know understand the legal issues at all. It seems like legally it would be a legitimate question. Do any of you have more insight into this?

Here's the opening part of the piece. There's more discussion on the legal issues in the whole article.


The legal battle that is about to ensue over a question the Trump administration wants to add to the 2020 Census will be unlike major litigation around past censuses.

After an unprecedented move by the Trump administration to add a controversial question late in the Census planning process, courts will be asked to take an unprecedented step of preventing the administration from making the change before the count.

California filed a lawsuit challenging Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add a citizenship question to the upcoming Census just hours after the change was announced. Several other groups and parties are lining up behind California Attorney General Xavier Becerra with plans to bring legal challenges of their own.

Every Census is the target of a fair share of lawsuits. But the legal ground to be tread this time will be fresh, Census experts and voting rights attorneys tell TPM.

“There is no clear analogous previous case, but there’s no clear previous analogous circumstance like this either,” said Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The stakes are extremely high, not just for immigrant populations, but for the states where they live and for the communities that serve them. If the question dis-incentivizes certain populations from participating — as many experts and advocates expect — the undercount would lead to a shrinking of their political representation, and a stiffing of federal resources allocated for them.

The lawsuit that California filed Monday alleges that the move violates the Constitution’s Enumeration Clause, which mandates that “actual enumeration” of people in the United State be used to apportion congressional districts. The suit also claims the addition of the question violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which prohibits “arbitrary and capricious” agency action.

“If you undertake methods, like the citizenship question, that are guaranteed to prevent you from conducting a Census that is fair and accurate, you are in dereliction of your basic constitutional duties,” said Tom Wolf, counsel with the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center, explaining the constitutional argument against adding the question.

LFC's Photo LFC 28 March 2018 - 11:25 AM

If you're interested TPM has a lot more background here, here, and here on the why. Basically it's to intentionally undercount minorities for redistricting purposes.

Wilbur Ross overruled Census Bureau officials to ram it through.


Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’ decision Monday to add a controversial question on citizenship to the 2020 census came in the face of opposition from career officials at the Census Bureau who fear it will depress response rates, especially from immigrants.

Two people with knowledge of the deliberations said career leaders in the Census Bureau, which is part of the Commerce Department, had scrambled to come up with alternatives to adding the question. Those efforts were unsuccessful.

In a memo announcing his decision, Ross said that “The Census Bureau and many stakeholders expressed concern that [a citizenship question] would negatively impact the response rate for non-citizens.”

But Ross added that “neither the Census Bureau nor the concerned stakeholders could document that the response rate would in fact decline materially.”

And Marco Rubio, the "thoughtful" Republican, blurted it out on Twitter.


Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in a tweet Wednesday linked the Trump administration’s controversial push to add a citizenship question to the Census to an approach to drawing districts that would boost Republican power.


Marco Rubio
Latest absurd freak out is over #census2020 citizenship question. In every nation citizenship matters, so shouldn’t we know how many we have? And districts apportioned based on # of people not here legally dilutes the political representation of citizens & legal residents.

Rubio is not the first conservative to suggest that data gathered by asking about citizenship on the decennial Census could be used to draw districts based on number of citizens or eligible voters, rather than total population. Currently, states use total population.


golden_valley's Photo golden_valley 28 March 2018 - 11:39 AM

Do we need a census to tell us how many American citizens there are? Between birth records and naturalization records it's all there.

pnwguy's Photo pnwguy 28 March 2018 - 11:40 AM

Forget undocumented aliens for the moment. The 2010 statistic I've read is that 12.6 million green card holders are in the U.S. I would imagine a current figure is higher. They can't vote, but in terms of a need for federal services, and representation, it would seem like their interests should count, even for the obtuse GOP voter.

Maybe the census form should ask if you immigrated from Norway. Or something like this:

"Are you a US Citizen (check if yes) [ ] "
"If your answer above was No, are you white? Citizens of shit-hole countries must answer No [ ] "

AnBr's Photo AnBr 28 March 2018 - 09:28 PM

I don't know about any legal aspects of this, but the census is more than just for redistricting. It can determine where and how much of federal resources will be distributed. Even if a non-citizen can't vote they are part of the population of a city. This is not just resources that go to individuals, but infrastructure or any community wide asset. Even though a non-citizen can't vote a representative is still the voice of that community. Also remember that even legal aliens may be put off by such questions in today's anti immigrant climate.

Art_Vandelay's Photo Art_Vandelay 29 March 2018 - 05:12 AM

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Says Citizenship Question Has Been on Census for Decades—It Hasn't


White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders inaccurately argued on Tuesday that a question added to the 2020 census asking people if they are U.S. citizens has been used for decades and was only removed under the Obama administration.

“This is a question that’s been included in every census since 1965, with the exception of 2010, when it was removed,” Sanders told reporters.

“We’ve contained this question that provides data that is necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters and specifically help us better comply with the Voting Rights Act,” said the White House spokeswoman.

There was no census in 1965. The 1960 census asked people where they were born, but not about their citizenship. The questionnaire, sent out once a decade, gathers statistics on Americans that helps plan how tax money is spent and how many congressional seats each state gets.

The last time an official census asked if the people responding were U.S. citizens was in 1950. Some other surveys sent out by the U.S. Census Bureau, such as the American Community Survey, however, have asked the question.

Who could ever forget the ’65 census? One of the all time great ones.

D. C. Sessions's Photo D. C. Sessions 29 March 2018 - 07:40 AM

Remember that when the Constitution was enacted women, children, natives, slaves, and white males who did not own property were not allowed to vote and generally didn't count as "citizens." Despite that, they were counted for purposes of representation etc. in the census and the Constitution infamously and specifically called for partial counting of slaves. The question of non-citizens' representation is very long-settled law.

Personally, I'd encourage anyone living in a red State who doesn't (not can't) vote to list themselves (and children) as non-citizens. On the chance that this is going to be used for CIS sweeps, that poisons the data as well.

Sinan's Photo Sinan 29 March 2018 - 08:54 AM

Using the census to count citizens is the wrong approach, use the SS ID system, clean it up, make it tamper proof, make it automatic upon birth, make it work as an effective national ID system. This elegant yet difficult solution is the key to a whole range of issues not excluding voter rolls. It would take 10 years to do correctly but once updated, it would be easy to count how many citizens are in the USA at any one time.

LFC's Photo LFC 16 January 2019 - 03:14 PM

A judge ruled against the Trump administration. The judge seems to have written a very comprehensive ruling that is a combination of both very brutal and somewhat limited in scope. TPM thinks he planned on it going before SCOTUS so wanted to be thorough, very clear, but without overreach that could jeopardize the ruling. Here's the opener but read the details. This judge is sharp.


U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman found himself in an extraordinary position as he handed down a decision Tuesday declaring illegal the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question to the census.

As trial in the case was wrapping up in November, the Supreme Court announced it would hear arguments on a dispute in the case in February. More remarkable, still, is that the dispute — over a judge’s order the Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who made the decision to add the question, sit for a deposition — has been essentially rendered moot by Furman’s ruling Tuesday.

It’s unclear exactly what will happen next in the case: whether the Justice Department, as it has with pre-trial procedural issues, will attempt to get an immediate intervention by the Supreme Court, and whether the justices will have time to fully review the case on the merits before the June deadline to print the census questionnaires.

Regardless, while Furman pulled no punches when it came to criticizing the Trump administration’s decision-making process, he was extremely careful in his 277-page opinion and even showed some restraint in its legal analysis. That restraint, experts told TPM, could indicate Furman was thinking about how to protect his decision from a reversal by a higher court, including the Supreme Court.

“This is an exceedingly important opinion on a monstrously important topic — and it’s abundantly clear throughout that Judge Furman is really upset at the way that Commerce and Sec. Ross conducted themselves — but the opinion itself really isn’t overly aggressive,” Justin Levitt, a, professor at Loyola Law School, told TPM in an email.

LFC's Photo LFC 25 January 2019 - 07:22 PM

Here's why Republicans blocked Obama's SCOTUS nominee; so they could ignore U.S. courts and run straight to the one they stacked.


The Trump administration on Friday formally asked the Supreme Court for an extraordinary expedited decision on whether a citizenship question can be added to the 2020 census form.

The Justice Department pointed to the June deadline to finalize the 2020 census forms in asking the Supreme Court to take up the case, where a federal judge last week ruled against the administration, before an appeals court has had a chance to fully review it. It suggested the justices could hear the case during its April sitting or during a special sitting the court could call in May.

“It is exceedingly unlikely that the parties could obtain full review in both the court of appeals and this Court by the end of June,” the Justice Department said.

The Justice Department’s move to rush an appeal to the Supreme Court comes after a U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman’s decision last week blocking the addition of a citizenship question. In appealing that decision, the Justice Department also asked the justices to consider a discovery issue in the case that they were previously scheduled to hear in February but then took off their calendar after the federal judge’s decision in the case.

LFC's Photo LFC 06 March 2019 - 02:30 PM

The citizenship question gets struck down again. The judge was pretty harsh.


A federal judge in California ruled Wednesday against the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question to the Census.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg, of the Northern District of California, said that the addition of the question was a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Unlike the judge in New York who also ruled against the question, Seeborg also said that the question violated the Constitution’s Enumeration Clause, which requires the “actual Enumeration” of the population every decade to be used for congressional apportionment.

The Supreme Court has taken up the New York case for review and will hear arguments next month.

The California case was a consolidation of two lawsuits, one brought by the state of California and the other by a civil rights group and the city of San Jose.

The judge said that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add the question was “arbitrary and capricious, represented an abuse of discretion, and was otherwise not in accordance with law.”

He said the Commerce Department’s effort to get it added was a “cynical search to find some reason, any reason, or an agency request to justify that preordained result.”

The Trump administration has argued that the question would assist the Justice Department with its enforcement of the Voting Rights Act — a claim that has been refuted widely by election law experts and civil right advocates.

Judge Seeborg called the administration’s official justification a “mere pretext and the definition of an arbitrary and capricious governmental act.” He also pointed to the fact that Census Bureau experts had advised Ross against adding the question because it would discourage the participation of certain communities.

“While it is of course appropriate for an incoming cabinet member to advocate for different policy directions, to solicit support for such views from other agencies, and to disagree with his or her professional staff, this record reflects a profoundly different scenario: an effort to concoct a rationale bearing no plausible relation to the real reason, whatever that may be, underlying the decision,” the judge said.

In discussing his finding of a Enumeration Clause violation, the judge said that adding a citizenship question is “fundamentally counterproductive to the goal of obtaining accurate citizenship data about the public.”

“This question is, however, quite effective at depressing self-response rates among immigrants and noncitizens, and poses a significant risk of distorting the apportionment of congressional representation among the states,” the judge said. “In short, the inclusion of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census threatens the very foundation of our democratic system—and does so based on a self-defeating rationale.”

LFC's Photo LFC 27 March 2019 - 01:47 PM

Now that Wilbur Ross has been caught red-handed lying about trying to put the citizenship question on the census he's afraid to face Congress.


Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has declined an invitation to testifying in front of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee about the Trump administration’s budget proposal, the top Democrat on the subcommittee said Wednesday.

Ross’ refusal to testify before the lawmakers comes after he was grilled earlier this month by House lawmakers on his decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Two federals judges have ruled that Ross’ move was illegal and the Supreme Court is now reviewing it.

It was during last year’s round of budget hearings that Ross repeatedly made misleading claims about who was behind the push to add the question, which stands to discourage immigrant participation on the survey.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the top Democrat on the subcommittee that Ross was invited come before, said that his refusal to testify was a “shame.”

“I was looking forward to asking him why he misled me during his last appearance, one year ago, when he asserted that the Justice Department was ‘the one who made the request’ to include a controversial citizenship question on the Census,” Leahy said in a statement. “That was false: It was Secretary Ross who first pressured a reluctant Justice Department. And two courts have since declared that the Secretary’s attempt to add the question was illegal.”

LFC's Photo LFC 27 March 2019 - 05:06 PM

Rather than start a new thread I'll just drop this here. Census Bureau officials are asking the big tech companies for their help in knocking back fake news stories designed to skew the census results.


The U.S. Census Bureau has asked tech giants Google, Facebook and Twitter to help it fend off “fake news” campaigns it fears could disrupt the upcoming 2020 count, according to Census officials and multiple sources briefed on the matter.

The push, the details of which have not been previously reported, follows warnings from data and cybersecurity experts dating back to 2016 that right-wing groups and foreign actors may borrow the “fake news” playbook from the last presidential election to dissuade immigrants from participating in the decennial count, the officials and sources told Reuters.

The sources, who asked not to be named, said evidence included increasing chatter on platforms like “4chan” by domestic and foreign networks keen to undermine the survey. The census, they said, is a powerful target because it shapes U.S. election districts and the allocation of more than $800 billion a year in federal spending.

Ron Jarmin, the Deputy Director of the Census Bureau, confirmed the bureau was anticipating disinformation campaigns, and was enlisting the help of big tech companies to fend off the threat.

“We expect that (the census) will be a target for those sorts of efforts in 2020,” he said.

golden_valley's Photo golden_valley 27 March 2019 - 05:11 PM

View PostLFC, on 27 March 2019 - 05:06 PM, said:

Rather than start a new thread I'll just drop this here. Census Bureau officials are asking the big tech companies for their help in knocking back fake news stories designed to skew the census results.

I know it was commonly said that people in California didn't participate in ACA programs because they had a relative who was not documented. They didn't want to draw attention their family. That logic would extend to answering the census I suspect.

LFC's Photo LFC 03 April 2019 - 10:39 AM

View PostLFC, on 27 March 2019 - 01:47 PM, said:

Now that Wilbur Ross has been caught red-handed lying about trying to put the citizenship question on the census he's afraid to face Congress.

Wow, he's now in full blown cowering mode.


Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross turned down an invitation to appear in front a House Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday — the second time in recent days Ross has dodged an opportunity to testify on his department’s budget.

Ross is under scrutiny for his move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census — a move that the Supreme Court will review later this month.

In a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, Ross claimed his appearance would “unfortunately distract from the Department’s important business before the subcommittee.”

Ross pointed to the subcommittee’s refusal to host other Department officials to testify about the budget in his absence.

Ross last week, without public explanation, also turned down an invitation to testify in front of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee about the Trump administration’s budget proposal.

The top Democrat on that committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) expressed frustration that he would not be able to grill Ross on the inclusion of the citizenship question on the census.

LFC's Photo LFC 25 April 2019 - 07:59 AM

And this is what happens when you "just can't vote for Hillary." Good job, childish libs and political no-shows. Hope you like the regime that ends up ruling America. If not you have nobody to blame but yourselves.


The liberal justices — perhaps aware they faced an uphill battle to convince their conservative counterparts to strike down the question — displayed a deep understanding of the empirical issues at play in the case. They were able to bat around Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who received few life rafts from the conservative justices during his initial defense of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add the question.

There was no clear sign during Tuesday arguments, however, that the liberals would succeed in finding a fifth vote to rule against the citizenship question, which has been blocked by three lower courts.

Chief Justice John Roberts had one or two skeptical questions for Francisco, but showed just as much skepticism towards the arguments of the states and non-profits challenging the Trump administration’s move.

Justice Samuel Alito, meanwhile, was the administration’s most effective ally in the court, as he grilled the challengers’ lawyers about an assessment made by the Census Bureau as it recommended against adding the citizenship question to the decennial survey.

“I don’t think you have to be statistician…” Alito said, to begin a line of inquiry that questioned the findings of the Census Bureau’s statisticians.

The Trump administration has not challenged the Census Bureau’s conclusion that the question would result in a nearly 6 percent decline in self-response among noncitizen households.

The other conservative justices stuck to more superficial lines of inquiry that hewed to the administration’s top-line defenses of the question. They seemed less interested in engaging in the more complicated arguments against adding the question. At earlier steps in the proceedings, the three most conservative justices already signaled they were inclined to rule in favor of the government.

pnwguy's Photo pnwguy 25 April 2019 - 10:11 AM

View PostLFC, on 25 April 2019 - 07:59 AM, said:

And this is what happens when you "just can't vote for Hillary." Good job, childish libs and political no-shows. Hope you like the regime that ends up ruling America. If not you have nobody to blame but yourselves.
Maybe those should be the first people on the wall in Gilead

LFC's Photo LFC 30 May 2019 - 01:31 PM

The smoking gun evidence that the citizenship question was all about Republican electoral advantage has been found. Sure we all knew it was obviously true but it's rare in a case like this to get it in writing. Remember that in the court cases that challenged this we have Republicans defending the question. It is now abundantly clear that they lied about the reason for adding the citizenship question. If statements were made under oath then that's perjury. LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP!


The move by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the census can be traced back directly to the work of a Republican redistricting expert who studied how to create maps that “would be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites,” according to new evidence revealed in court documents filed Thursday.

How the evidence even fell into the challengers’ laps is in itself an incredible turn of luck, involving an estranged daughter, a chance phone call and a casual conversation about how the files of the GOP’s gerrymandering mastermind might be useful in a voting rights lawyers.

The documents — filed by the challengers in the case in New York seeking to block the question — offer the most concrete evidence yet that the Trump administration added the question in order to boost the GOP, rather than to better enforce the Voting Rights Act — its official rationale.

The challengers already won their case at the trial court level, but it has been appealed and was heard by the Supreme Court last month. A final decision on whether the question will stay on the 2020 census is expected in June.

The new evidence backs the case made by the challengers that the administration lied about its reasons for adding the question, and, over the course of the litigation, further concealed the citizenship question’s true origins. It supports other evidence that adding the question was part of a long-held goal by conservative advocates to overhaul redistricting in a way that shifts political power away from urban and diverse communities.

According to the new evidence, Thomas Hofeller — the Republican Party’s go-to redistricting expert who died last year — was behind language that made it into the Justice Department’s formal request in December 2017 that the question be added to the census.


What they found is that Hofeller conducted an analysis in 2015 on how excluding noncitizens in redistricting “would clearly be a disadvantage for the Democrats,” using the Texas legislature as a case study.

“A switch to the use of citizen voting age population as the redistricting population base for redistricting would be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites,” the study said.

The study was commissioned by GOP mega-donor Paul Singer, a major funder of the Washington Free Beacon, who was considering whether to financially support a lawsuit that sought to require that noncitizens be excluded from redistricting.

Hofeller’s study cautioned that such a redistricting overhaul would be “functionally unworkable” without a citizenship question on the Census.

Hofeller went on to advise the Trump transition on the census, and was the “first person” to suggest that a citizenship question be added, according to the deposition of another transition advisor, Mark Neuman.

Neuman claimed in his deposition that Hofeller recommended the question to “maximize” Latino population – testimony that the challengers in the New York case say is false and worthy of court sanction.

golden_valley's Photo golden_valley 31 May 2019 - 09:55 AM

The above quote mentions "Non-Hispanic Whites." Does this mean there are Hispanic Whites? Who would they be? Light skinned people from Spain maybe?

HockeyDon's Photo HockeyDon 31 May 2019 - 10:11 AM

View Postgolden_valley, on 31 May 2019 - 09:55 AM, said:

The above quote mentions "Non-Hispanic Whites." Does this mean there are Hispanic Whites? Who would they be? Light skinned people from Spain maybe?

Depends if they vote Republican or not.