Federal judges in California and New York have ruled Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross misled Congress and the people by helping to orchestrate a bad-faith scheme to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The question asks, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?“
Since the Census Bureau must begin its work on the upcoming census this summer, the Supreme Court granted the administration’s request for an immediate review of the Judge Furman’s New York decision—which includes 18 states–to be heard on April 23.
Initially, the Supreme Court was considering only whether the decision to add the citizenship question was arbitrary and capricious under administrative law. However, on Friday, the Court expanded the April 23rd oral arguments to include whether asking about citizenship would violate the Constitutional requirement that the census count all people, not just citizens.
The courts ruled that the disputed question will have the effect of scaring undocumented residents and their legal family members from filling out the constitutionally mandated headcount, which would result in states with large minority populations, notably California, to be under-represented in both Congressional and Presidential elections.
States with large minority populations would also be robbed of billions of dollars in Federal funding, if the citizenship question results in an undercount on the decennial census.
“Ross was fully aware the question would produce a census undercount, especially among Latinos, Federal Judge, Richard Seeborg, of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled on March 6.
Secretary Ross’ contention that adding the citizenship question would allow the Census Bureau to obtain more “complete and accurate data in response to the [Justice Department’s] request, is not only unsupported, it is directly contradicted by the scientific analysis contained in the Administrative Record,” Judge Seeborg, an Obama appointee, decided.
New York’s 18-State Suit
Furman, in a suit filed on behalf of 18 states, ordered the Trump Administration to halt its plans to add the citizenship question, ruling it violated Constitutional and statuary law.
“The census, supervised by the Commerce Secretary, is intended to count all U.S. residents–excepting American Indians, who are not taxed–not simply U.S. citizens,” Judge Furman wrote.
“The population count derived from that effort is not only to apportion Representatives among the states but also to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in Federal, state and local funds,” judge Furman ruled.
“Since its inception in 1790, the decennial census has also been used for another purpose—to collect demographic data about the population of the United States,” judge Furman stated.
The citizenship question was removed from the census in 1960.
Since the Census Bureau must begin its work this summer, the Supreme Court granted the administration’s request for an immediate review of Judge Furman’s ruling, to be argued on April 23.
Something to Hide
In his opinion, Furman accused Secretary Ross and his team of misleading Congress, the public and the court.
They “acted like people with something to hide,” Furman wrote, because “they did have something to hide.”
The Washington Post reported, “Furman’s opinion offers a detailed and searing narrative, a tale of government deceit that paints a stark picture of top government officials contriving one version of events for public consumption, while keeping the real story to themselves.
Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach
“The version for public, and Congressional, consumption was summarized by Secretary Ross in a March 26  memorandum and in testimony before the House Appropriations Committee on March 20 ,” the Post reported.
In his public testimony, Ross said he was considering adding the question at the request of the Justice Department so it could better identify violations of the Voting Rights Act, a preposterous contention, as the Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in election procedures.
Both Bannon and Kobach pressed Secretary Ross–whose Commerce Department oversees the census–to order The Justice Department to approve the citizenship question, despite the Bureau’s “strenuous objections,” judge Furman opined.
‘Secretary Ross….decided to take matters into his own hands’ by personally contacting then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions…
“After Sessions’ approved the citizenship question, a Justice official told Ross’s aides that “it sounds like we can do whatever you all need us to do,” Judge Furman wrote.
Meanwhile, Furman noted, experts at the Census Bureau remained “in the dark” about what was going on.
Records submitted to the court disclosed that the Census Bureau had “repeatedly and consistently recommended against” adding the question because it would decrease response rates among minorities,’ Judge Furman concluded.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney Rebuffs Trump
Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), co-chair of the House Census Caucus and author of the Census IDEA Act, says she and 44 of her colleagues have urged Secretary Ross to block the citizenship question.
“[The Census] “helps to determine how more than $600 billion in annual federal funding is allocated, Maloney writes on her website.
“States and localities need accurate census data for everything from transportation priorities to education policies,” she notes.
“Businesses of every size in every sector rely on accurate census data for nearly every strategic decision they make.
“Most critically, the count of all residents of the United States also determines how many seats each state is allotted in the Electoral College and the House.
“If that data is manipulated by deliberately undercounting specific communities, then our system of representative democracy is undermined.
“That is why the census, its funding and its execution have always been a bipartisan, apolitical priority.
“That is, until the Trump Administration took charge,” Maloney concludes.