Federal District Judge Richard Seeborg has not only ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross broke the law when he added a citizenship question to the 2020 census, he took apart Ross (and thus, the Trump administration) in his written opinion:
“Nearly a year before issuing that decision, on May 2, 2017, Secretary Ross sent an email to Deputy Chief of Staff Earl Comstock stating in part “I am mystified why nothing[has]
been done in response to my months old request that we include the citizenship question. Why not?” What ensued was a cynical search to find some reason, any reason, or an agency request to justify that preordained result.
….When initially approached by Comstock about the citizenship question, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) opted not to request its inclusion in the census. Comstock then reached out to the Department of Homeland Security, which similarly declined to request the addition of the question. Only after Secretary Ross personally interceded with then Attorney General Jeff Sessions did the DOJ switch its position and request the inclusion of a citizenship question, ostensibly to assist in the enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”)
….Secretary Ross’s reliance on VRA enforcement to justify inclusion of the citizenship question was mere pretext and the definition of an arbitrary and capricious governmental act. Moreover, Secretary Ross’s conclusion that adding the citizenship question would enable the Census Bureau to obtain more “complete and accurate data” in response to the DOJ’s request is not only unsupported, it is directly contradicted by the scientific analysis contained in the Administrative Record. PTX-26 at 1, 7. 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.”
Trump And His Administration Told Once Again To Follow The Law
As he has plenty of times, Donald Trump seems to believe he can just bark orders and they’ll be carried out, unencumbered by either laws or the Constitution.
But as we’ve seen, Judge Seeborg was having none of it.
The executive branch is required to conduct the census as accurately as possible. By law, any changes have to be explained. They also have to be real, not made up.
Wilbur Ross, representing the Trump administration, not only failed to follow the law, it’s been quite obvious even before Seeborg’s ruling that addition of the citizenship question was being done for partisan political purposes, with Ross then trying to invent some kind of reason to justify it. Talk about putting the bad-faith cart before the horse.
An Accurate Census Is In Your Best Interest
Why should you care? Because the result would have been an inaccurate census that under-counted non-citizen populations and skewed both congressional representation and federal funding for states such as New York and California with large populations of people who aren’t citizens.
Do you live in one of those states? If so, how would you like the precedent to be set that your congressional representation could be arbitrarily changed based on the partisan whim of whichever party had the White House? Or, imagine the federal funding for your state for critical programs such as transportation and Medicaid would be reduced.
In other words, though you may not think of it on a daily basis, your life is directly affected by the accuracy of the census.
Regardless of your political persuasion, accuracy matters.