On CNN Wednesday morning, John Avlon sharply criticized President Donald Trump’s administration for leaning on the Supreme Court to let him politicize the 2020 Census — skewing the numbers in ways that help Republicans win elections.
“You’ve gotta hand it to the Trump administration — they’ve got a knack for weaponizing just about anything, including something as boring as counting people,” said Avlon, quoting a federal judge who noted Trump’s attempt to add a partisan citizenship question “threatens the very foundation of our democratic system.”
“The Census, of course, is the constitutionally mandated counting of everyone in the country every ten years,” said Avlon. “When I said everyone, I meant everyone, citizens and non-citizens alike. And this is by design, because the Census is supposed to accurately count the U.S. population, and then use it to determine everything from the way political districts are drawn to the allocation of some $880 billion in federal funds for constituents.”
Avlon then noted that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied to Congress when he said the citizenship question was a Justice Department request to comply with the Voting Rights Act — in fact, the DOJ and the Census Bureau both opposed the question. “Turns out Ross was under pressure from immigration hardliners like Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach,” Avlon notes, who explicitly stated the question’s purpose was to avoid counting “aliens,” even though “that’s how the Census is supposed to work.”
“It might not surprise you to know that study after study shows that such a question would depress responses among the non-citizen population by as much as 5 percent,” Avlon continued, as people will fear handing their information over to an administration that is obsessed with detention and deportation.
Although three federal courts ruled Ross’ justification for the question was a lie and he did not follow proper administrative procedure, Avlon noted, “The first thing the Supremes did was to shield him from testifying under oath.” Moreover, he added, the Court’s five conservatives seemed inclined to let the administration move forward.
“This case could impact American politics for more than a decade,” Avlon warned. “Undercounting our actual population, benefiting Republicans in redistricting by design while depriving more populous Democratic districts of millions in federal funding for their constituents. And whatever the Court decides, we know that this proposed change was born not out of principle, but to gain partisan advantage.”
President Trump just tweeted about the Supreme Court case adding a citizenship question to the census. @johnavlon says: “We know that this proposed change was born not out of principle but to gain partisan advantage.” https://t.co/tYmMzpVK11 #RealityCheck pic.twitter.com/GBTBgBKtY1# p #9_10 # ad skipped = true #
— New Day (@NewDay) April 24, 2019# p #10_10 # ad skipped = true #