U.S. Supreme Court expected to issue ruling this week impacting people of color

by | Jun 24, 2019 | Policy

The white hot case before the U.S. Supreme Court this term is whether to include a citizenship question in the periodic population count of the United States, known as the Census. A ruling by the Court is expected this week.

The Trump Administration argues a citizenship question must be included on the Census to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

[Editor’s note: Since when did this Administration want to enforce voting rights?]

The Constitution mandates the entire U.S. population is counted – not just citizens. The Census is a critical tool for determining, based on the number of people, how much representation and federal funding a state receives.

Including citizenship would likely lead to an undercount of the Latino population, both citizens and non-citizens.  

One columnist said it was a way to preserve white power.

Texas’ largest county, Harris, wrote a legal brief in April opposing the Administration’s position.

“Adding a citizenship question to the short-form Census is about intimidating people so that their communities have less representation,” Susan Hays, an attorney who drafted the brief, told The Texas Signal at the time. “The Administration knows people will drop off  – especially undocumented and legal immigrants in the Hispanic community.”

About 6 million Hispanics would not be counted in 2020 Census if the citizenship question was added, according to Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center.

In a twist, the ACLU and blue-chip firm Arnold & Porter earlier this month came across documents written by a Republican strategist that, they say, proved a political motivation. Adding the citizenship question, Dr. Thomas Hofeller wrote, would be “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”

Critics have long said the case is a political engineering job to give Democrats fewer seats in the House, redounding to the GOP’s benefit.

Hofeller used the Texas House as an example of such a benefit. As the Texas Tribune reported, “the loss of Democratic-leaning districts would be most severe in areas with mostly Hispanic populations, such as South Texas, El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley, which would lose 2.6 state House districts, according to Hofeller’s analysis. The change would also cost Dallas County 1.7 districts and another 1.7 districts in Harris County and its suburbs.”

The newly disclosed Hofeller documents, however, can’t be part of the case currently before the Supreme Court. But given the new information, the ACLU is urging the Court to delay a ruling until the fall.

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