Census citizenship question began as GOP plan to hurt Democrats, documents show

This surprises no one.

Newly revealed documents appeared to confirm Thursday what many critics had long suspected — that the Trump administration’s drive to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census began as a plan to bolster Republicans and to undercut Democrats in state legislatures and Congress.

Thomas Hofeller, a Republican expert on redistricting and gerrymandering, died last year in North Carolina. His daughter found documents on his computer hard drive urging the Commerce Department to change the census to ask all residents about whether they are citizens.

With this data, states could draw new election maps based on the number of eligible voters, not the total population. That “would be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” and “would clearly be a disadvantage for the Democrats,” he wrote.

His advice came to light Thursday because the Supreme Court is weighing whether to uphold the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to next year’s census.

Federal district judges in New York, San Francisco and Baltimore blocked the move, holding that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had not put forth a legitimate explanation for such a significant change.

Census Bureau experts had predicted that millions of immigrants would refuse to answer the question, for fear of drawing attention, thereby creating a severe undercount in some areas.

Lawyers who challenged the proposed question noted that the Constitution calls for “an actual enumeration” that includes “counting the whole number of persons in each state.”

But when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in April in the case of Department of Commerce vs. New York, the five conservative justices sounded ready to rule for the administration.

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