I guess you’d start with this question: Why would anyone not want this information?
The proposition at hand is that the government, via the Census, wants to simply ask respondents if they are or are not citizens. The specific reason is that the information makes it easier to comply with the Voting Rights Act for the purpose of redistricting, since knowing the percentage of actual voting-eligible citizens you have among the population is crucial to getting the apportionment right.
But the left doesn’t want to know. Why not?
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They claim it’s because asking the question would discourage Hispanics from answering, and that this would result in an undercount of the areas where they live in heavy concentrations. Congressional representation is determined by entire legal populations, not just citizens, so the thinking is that non-citizen Hispanics will toss out the form and the districts in which they live will lose representation.
But if that’s the case, who is your problem with? This is why I emphasized that representation is determined by legal populations. If you’re living in the country legally but you’re not a citizen, you have nothing to fear by answering the Census. And if you’re not here legally, you’re not supposed to be counted anyway.
What’s the problem? The problem, of course, is that counting illegals skews congressional representation in Democrats’ favor, which is why they don’t want the citizenship question asked. And they’ve come up with some novel legal theories for why it shouldn’t be asked, which the Supreme Court is getting ready to grapple with.
One of the issues being raised by state officials from liberal states who don’t want the citizenship question asked is Commerce Department staff raised objections to the inclusion of the question, which were overruled by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. They want the Supreme Court to affirm that Ross had a legal obligation to defer to staff recommendations.
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They’re also complaining that Ross discussed his intentions with White House officials.
Neither of these makes any sense as a legal argument. Let’s take the second one first: The Commerce Secretary has responsibility for formulating the Census questions, but the Commerce Secretary only has authority insofar as it’s assigned to him by the president. The left seems to think that every executive branch decision should be made without the involvement of the White House, lest it be tinged with Trumpian political priorities or something.
Should the Census ask about citizenship?
That’s completely insane. Donald Trump is the only person in the executive branch any constitutional authority whatsoever. He is Wilbur Ross’s boss. This is like sports fans who complain about team owners “interfering” with the running of the team. It’s his team! The executive branch is not the property of Donald Trump, but he is the one with the constitutional authority to set its policies.
As to the question of staff recommendations, you could argue as a management principle that a leader should seriously consider staff recommendations. But as a legal principle, this is absurd. Ross is the Secretary of Commerce, confirmed by the Senate as such, and staff work for him. If the courts want to establish that cabinet secretaries can’t overrule their underlings on policy questions, then the Deep State has just been empowered to completely run the government with no accountability whatsoever.
It’s inconceivable to me that the SCOTUS majority will rule in favor of the liberal states on this, but the fact that three lower courts have done so is further evidence that much of the federal judiciary has gone completely rogue, and is interested not in the law but in any pretext they can find to prevent Donald Trump from governing.
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