June 5, 2019

2020 Census Battle

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Last week the challengers in the dispute over the decision to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census notified the Supreme Court about new evidence. The new evidence, the challengers argued, indicated that a Republican redistricting strategist played a key role in the decision, which was intended to create an advantage for whites and Republicans in future elections. [On Monday] the Trump administration pushed back, calling the challengers’ accusations ‘meritless’ and an ‘eleventh-hour’ effort to ‘derail the Supreme Court’s resolution of this case’...

The district court is scheduled to hold a hearing on the challengers’ motion for sanctions [today]. The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision before the end of June, so that the government can finalize the census questionnaire and begin printing it.” SCOTUS Blog

On the radar: “House Democrats are moving to hold Trump administration officials in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with subpoenas for documents related to the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left argues that the new evidence makes clear the GOP’s true motives, and condemns the citizenship question as undermining the purpose of the census.

“A trove of documents brought to the attention of the Supreme Court on Thursday makes it hard to see the Trump administration’s efforts to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census as anything but a partisan power grab… An accurate and fair count of everyone in America isn’t just any policy goal. There’s much at stake with the 2020 census — from the future of the next redistricting cycle to how billions of dollars in federal funding will be allocated. The Supreme Court should see this new evidence for what it seems to reveal: A blatant attempt to rig a constitutional mandate.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

“[The] newly revealed documents show that the Trump administration’s purpose in putting the citizenship question on the upcoming census was not its stated one to help Hispanic voters under the Voting Rights Act, but rather to create policy that would be ‘a disadvantage to the Democrats’ and ‘advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic Whites.’ It’s difficult to produce a greater smoking gun than explicitly saying you are hoping to help the GOP by increasing white voting power…

“Even if it is otherwise constitutionally permissible to experiment with different understandings of how to draw districts with equal populations under the equal protection clause, the government should not be able to do so if the purpose is to dilute the power of political adversaries and minority voters, as demonstrated in this case by the new revelations.”
Richard L. Hasen, Slate

“Long before Trump was even elected, Republican Party insiders were plotting to increase white political power at the expense of people of color. After Trump was elected, they implemented this plan by insisting that their actual goal was the protection of minority voting rights… there was the real reason and the stated reason, the truth and the pretext

“That the Republican effort to increase white political power might be motivated by partisanship rather than racism is little solace. Segregationist Democrats might not have insisted on disenfranchising black voters after Reconstruction had those voters not been staunch Republicans. Whether motivated by partisanship or racism, though, the result is the same… [Yet] the census case does not hinge on whether the citizenship question is discriminatory. Rather, as a matter of administrative law, the executive branch must follow certain procedures before making decisions. The Trump administration’s blatant dishonesty settles the question of whether it followed procedure definitively: It did not.”
Adam Serwer, The Atlantic

“Federal law protects the privacy of everyone who responds to the census. But that’s small comfort for immigrants and their families living in a climate of fear under President Trump. Bureau officials have for decades recognized that communities with significant immigrant populations are likely to be undercounted if there is a citizenship question on the census…

“By the bureau’s own, nonpartisan analysis, adding a citizenship question to the ‘short form’ that will go to every household in America in 2020 could result in an undercount of 6.5 million people — close to the entire population of Indiana or Tennessee. And the agency has told Mr. Ross that there are better alternatives to a citizenship question that wouldn’t pose significant ‘potential quality and cost disruptions’ in administering the census, such as deriving citizenship data from the American Community Survey… At the heart of the dispute lies the question: Who gets to be counted?
Editorial Board, New York Times

“The main question about the strike isn’t moral or even legal—it’s strategic. Soleimani was a supremely powerful leader of a state apparatus, with his own cult of personality, but he was not a terror kingpin. His death doesn’t decapitate anything. He had the blood of tens of thousands of people—overwhelmingly fellow Muslims—on his hands, but he was only the agent of a government policy that preceded him and will continue without him…The only reason to kill Soleimani is to enter a new war that the United States can win… [Yet] No one seems to have thought past the action itself…

“What would [a] war [with Iran] look like? How will Iran fight it? How will the U.S. respond? What credible allies will we have, after Trump’s trashing of the nuclear deal thoroughly alienated Europe? Who will believe any intelligence about Iran’s actions and intentions from an administration that can’t function without telling lies?…What is our war aim, and how can it be aligned with Trump’s obvious desire to be rid of any entanglement in the region? What will happen if Jerusalem becomes a target and Israel enters the conflict? What will the American people accept by way of sacrifice, when nothing has prepared them for this? There’s no sign that anyone in power, least of all the president, has even asked these questions, let alone knows how to answer them.”
George Packer, The Atlantic

“By declaring that the United States will respond with airstrikes to any attacks on American targets or assets, Mr. Trump is drawing a bright red line that Iran cannot cross. And yet, Iran relies on a network of proxy actors from Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Must they all respect Mr. Trump’s red line? There are plenty of hotheads in those proxy forces that will be incensed by the assassination, the same way young men with weapons and minimal discipline often are… Mr. Trump can’t keep an entire region from crossing his red line, making violent conflict all the more likely if the president holds to it…

“It is crucial that influential Republican senators like Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell remind Mr. Trump of his promise to keep America out of foreign quagmires and keep Mr. Trump from stumbling further into war with Iran.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right does not think the new evidence is relevant to the underlying issue at hand, and defends the citizenship question as a commonsense addition that existed through most of US history.

From the Right

The right does not think the new evidence is relevant to the underlying issue at hand, and defends the citizenship question as a commonsense addition that existed through most of US history.

“During oral arguments in the case, the five conservative Justices seemed to agree with the Trump Administration that Congress has delegated to the Commerce Secretary broad authority over Census questions. As Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas noted in a related opinion last fall, it’s not unconstitutional for cabinet officers to have political motives for a policy. Political appointees also consult with outside experts like Hofeller all the time, as the Obama Administration often did on regulation and litigation… The real goal of flogging the Hofeller memo now is to raise enough of a political stink to intimidate the Supreme Court to block the citizenship question.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“The citizenship question was asked routinely until 1950, after which it was removed from the survey. In the midst of our current immigration crisis, there is certainly very good reason to know how many of the people in the country are citizens, and how many are essentially guests, whether invited or not. The nation ought to be able to have the facts at hand as we decide whether to close the southern border a la Trump or open it per Beto O’Rourke.”
Frank Miele, RealClearPolitics

“Equalizing for citizen population, rather than total population, will have the effect of giving eligible voters equality of electoral power. Consider this: In states with large numbers of noncitizens such as Texas, New York, and California, some state legislative districts may have twice as many eligible voters as adjoining ones. This means districts with fewer citizens have more electoral power than the districts with more citizens. That isn’t fair…

“Equalizing districts by the number of citizens prevents some voters from having their votes over-weighted and over-valued, while others are under-weighted and under-valued. If one-person, one-vote — one of our most enduring egalitarian principles — has any meaning, the citizen population gaps in voting districts must not be so glaringly wide. Without census data that includes citizenship status, it is probably not possible for states and smaller jurisdictions to draw election districts that equalize eligible voters.”
Edward Blum, American Enterprise Institute

“It is worth noting that the citizenship question does not ask about a person’s legal status; it merely asks about citizenship status and thus has nothing whatsoever to do with immigration enforcement. In fact, federal law prevents census data from being used for anything other than statistical analysis. That is the law and there is no evidence any agency intends to violate it… If there is a legitimate fear at all, it is that media hype may create a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is reckless and irresponsible of elected leaders in our country to give minorities the mistaken impression that they have anything to fear from the census for the sake of political gain.”
Ken Paxton, The Hill

“What is odd about the challenge by blue states and liberal advocacy organizations is that even the United Nations… sides with the Trump administration on this issue. In its 2017 ‘Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses,’ the U.N. recommends that member countries ask census questions identifying both an individual’s country of birth and country of citizenship. A Commerce Department memorandum on this subject dated March 26, 2018, notes that countries asking a citizenship question on their census include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, Spain and the United Kingdom.”
Hans A. von Spakovsky, Heritage Foundation

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

On the bright side...

You can now have an official Pokémon-themed wedding in Japan with Pikachu mascots.

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