Justice Department: Census Citizenship Quest Wasn’t Devious
Speaker 1: 00:00 The Supreme Court is expected to publish its decision this month on whether the Trump administration can include a citizenship question on the census. Meanwhile, new details have emerged that appear to show a now deceased GOP strategist played a role in the decision to add the citizenship question in the first place. Those details about political bias. We're not included in oral arguments before the high court justices, but we'll be heard tomorrow and a federal court in New York. David Savage covers the supreme court and legal issues for the Los Angeles Times. He's been following the story and joins us now to talk about the new findings. David, welcome. Speaker 2: 00:37 I did. Speaker 1: 00:37 Let's talk about the new allegations. Tell us about the documents reportedly found on the hard drive of the late GOP redistricting strategists, Thomas Holfeller and what they show. Speaker 2: 00:48 He was a real wizard of about drawing districts to a Gerrymander districts and help Republicans get elected. I'll fill her said, you know, the supreme court in the 60s talked about one person, one vote rule. Why don't we draw districts based on the number of adult citizens and that's a different number. It's, it's, it's quite different number in places like Texas and California because a lot of areas have a lot of immigrants who are not citizens. They're not eligible to vote. Uh, but they are counted in the census. So anyway, hope or wrote this long paper saying that if we do this, it will really shift political power in favor of Republicans and it will hurt Democrats. There's one problem. However, we don't have very good data because the census doesn't ask about citizenship. And so he said, you know, uh, the next census we ought to try to get a citizenship question on the census. And when that document came to light, a lot of people who were opposing the Trump administration said, see, that's what's really behind this. It's sort of a scheme to change things after 2020 to change how districts are drawn. And it would be a scheme that would, um, hurt Democrats, they said, and, uh, and help Republicans. Speaker 1: 02:15 And what's known about the validity of these new documents? Speaker 2: 02:19 Well, um, he, uh, hopeful or died last year. His daughter was apparently as strange but was involved, knew some of the people involved in the North Carolina. Gerrymandering case is an amazing coincidence. By the way, the supreme court has two really big gay suspending this month about politics. One is a partisan gerrymandering case from North Carolina. The other [inaudible] case, it turned out tome health I'll follow was involved in both of them. Anyway, she found these documents, turned him over to the people and who were working on the North Carolina redistricting case and they said, wow, this is also important for the census. Okay, so they, they turned him over to people, the lawyers, the ACLU lawyers and others who were involved in the census case and that's how they came to light. Speaker 1: 03:06 She handed them over to common cause. What does that organization say? The documents indicate about the aim for adding the citizenship question? Speaker 2: 03:15 Well common cause like the ACO, you said this sort of shows that the Trump administration has a secret scheme in mind here that they didn't essentially tell the court about or tell this country about the, they said the administration said, oh, we're going to add this citizenship question to the census. For the first time since 1950, a lot of census experts said, hey, this is a bad idea because it's going to drive down the count. In other words, a lot of areas where there are a lot of immigrants, people who are not going to, millions of people are not going to respond. And that's a bad thing. Administration said, well, we need this data to enforce the voting rights act, which seemed a little bit for fish, but the theory was that sometimes when judges are drawing new election districts, they want to know whether there are enough minorities. Uh, for example, uh, Hispanics in Texas to elect a Hispanic candidate. So they actually need data on how many voting age as citizens are there in this particular area. So sometimes the government needs this data, but a lot of people were very skeptical that that explanation made any sense and this new data. Then she seemed to confirm for them that the administration was not telling the truth as to why they were pushing for the citizenship. Question Speaker 1: 04:47 and reminders, how adding a citizenship question could impact California. Speaker 2: 04:51 The big impact for California would be driving down the count. California like Texas, uh, you know, has a very high percentage, a large number of immigrant families who are not citizens. They could be legal residency in the United States, but if they're not citizens or undocumented, right? People like that probably are not going to fill up that form and put down their name. And that would knock down the population count in California and the state could lose, um, representatives in Congress. It could lose, uh, federal funding and also within the state, the areas you can think around southern California, some areas have a very, neighborhoods have a very high number of immigrants in some areas have a lesser number of immigrants. If the cup goes down in those areas with the high number of immigrants, they're going to lose representatives in the state legislature and they're going to lose federal funds. So even before this new evidence came up, a lot of people in California thought this, this, the addition of this question is really going to hurt California for the next 10 years. Speaker 1: 06:08 And there's a hearing on this tomorrow, correct? Speaker 2: 06:11 Correct. Yes. The judge in New York who decided this case and ruled against the administration wants to hear evidence, uh, who your discussion about whether people in the administration essentially lied to his court. And as I say, I don't know what the judge is going to do with that. I'm not sure in the end that the judges, um, handling of it will have any effect on what the Supreme Court finally rules, Speaker 1: 06:37 right. I mean, the Supreme Court has already heard arguments in this case, so I mean, how could this really impact their decision on whether there is a citizenship question on the 2020 census? Speaker 2: 06:47 Well, the one possibility would be that if chief justice John Roberts or Brett Kevin or one of the justices said, well, this, this really is a big problem. Uh, the administration wasn't straight, so we're not going to uphold, um, the, the Trump administration move on this. I think that's highly unlikely. I think they're going to say the administration knew what it was doing. The law gives the Commerce Department a lot of power to decide the census, and my guest is on a five to four vote. They will say, ah, the, uh, we're going to uphold what the Commerce Department did. It's their decision and we're going to uphold it, Speaker 1: 07:26 and we'll find out more about that later this month, correct? Speaker 2: 07:29 Yes. I would predict the last days of June. Speaker 1: 07:32 All right. I've been speaking with David Savage, Washington correspondent with the La Times. David, thank you so much. Speaker 2: 07:38 Thank you, Jay. Speaker 3: 07:39 [inaudible].