The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear "bombshell" evidence that could have changed the direction of a high-profile dispute over the 2020 Census.
The justices will decide whether census-takers can ask: "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" But they will not hear that former Trump administration officials allegedly lied about the reason for the question. The plaintiffs said the question was added to favor "Republicans and non-Hispanic whites," and filed a motion for sanctions. A federal judge, who handled the case at the trial level, said that's not important right now.
'Serious, Not Frivolous'
After hearing arguments in New York, Judge Jesse Furman said he would not decide the merits of the plaintiffs' request until after the Supreme Court rules. He said the charges were "serious, not frivolous," but it was beyond his power to change the facts already submitted.
Representing the plaintiffs, the American Civil Liberties Union had hoped to amend the record to include allegations about the involvement of Tom Hofeller, the so-called architect of Republican gerrymandering. He allegedly said the question was added to be "advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites." Some media called it "bombshell evidence;" others called it a "longshot hope."
"These documents show that the administration's goal here is the exact opposite of what it said it was," Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's voting rights project, told Mother Jones. "They said they wanted to enforce minority voting rights, but the citizenship question originates with an effort to dilute minority voting rights." Legal experts predicted the evidence would not sway the Supreme Court, but now they won't even consider it because the trial judge denied the plaintiffs' request. In the balance of underlying decisions, the vote is already three to zero.
Following Furman and a judge in California, Judge George Hazel in Maryland became the third judge to rule against the Trump administration on the citizenship question. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wants to include the controversial question, but critics said it's an attempt to scare illegal immigrants out of the population count. And if they aren't counted, the census will be inaccurate. It's only one question, but it could have a significant impact. President Trump says there are some 30 million illegal immigrants in the country. A discrepancy that large could change the statistical face of America, shift the balance at the ballot box, and reset government-funded programs.