The Wall Street Journal: Evidence shows GOP knew citizenship question on census would benefit them, ACLU argues

WASHINGTON — Two Trump administration officials concealed the role of a Republican redistricting strategist in adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census form, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged Thursday in a Supreme Court case that could affect the distribution of political power across the country over the next decade.

The citizenship query originated with Thomas Hofeller, a GOP consultant who died last year, whose 2015 study concluded that amending the census form “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and would be “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites,” the ACLU said in a motion filed with U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, whose January decision striking the question currently is on appeal before the Supreme Court.

At arguments in April, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the justices the administration added the question to improve compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protects minorities from discriminatory practices that dilute their political power.

But evidence obtained from a separate lawsuit challenging redistricting by the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature “shows that Dr. Hofeller instead knew that adding a citizenship question would have exactly the opposite effect — it would disadvantage Latinos and benefit ‘Non-Hispanic Whites,’” according to the ACLU motion, a copy of which was filed Thursday with the Supreme Court. The ACLU motion said Justice and Commerce department officials “falsely testified” about the origin of the citizenship question, and asked Furman, an Obama appointee, to sanction the government. The judge gave the Trump administration until Monday to respond and called a hearing for Wednesday.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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