Tag Archives: Census

Trump administration sabotages the census, gets sued by at least 12 states (Updated)

On Monday, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced his decision to add a controversial question on citizenship to the 2020 census came in the face of opposition from career officials at the Census Bureau who fear it will depress response rates, especially from immigrants. Wilbur Ross Overruled Career Officials at Census Bureau to Add Citizenship Question:

It would be the first time since 1950 that the full, once-a-decade census asks people about their citizenship. The Constitution requires a count of all residents of the country every ten years. The Census Bureau conducts a separate detailed survey of a sample of U.S. households that includes questions about citizenship.

* * *

In a memo announcing his decision, Ross said that “The Census Bureau and many stakeholders expressed concern that [a citizenship question] would negatively impact the response rate for non-citizens.”

But Ross added that “neither the Census Bureau nor the concerned stakeholders could document that the response rate would in fact decline materially.”

* * *

A Commerce spokesman said that Ross “took a hard look” at an alternative proposal by the Census Bureau to get citizenship data without adding the question. But he ultimately decided the proposed method “would provide an incomplete picture.” The Ross memo argues that the value of the data collected from the new question will outweigh any harm.

ProPublica first reported in December that the Justice Department had submitted a last-minute request that the Census Bureau add a question on citizenship to the 2020 survey. The Justice Department argued that better data on citizens was needed to better enforce voting rights protections for minority groups.

* * *

The driving force behind the request for the new question, according to internal emails, was a Justice Department political appointee, John Gore, who spent years as an attorney in private practice defending GOP redistricting maps around the country.

Continue reading

Politicizing the Census Bureau for GOP authoritarianism

Steve Benen warns of an ominous development at the U.S. Census Bureau. Trump eyes radical choice for the Census Bureau:

The Census, conducted every 10 years by constitutional mandate, is one of those incredible important tasks that most people probably find rather dull. That’s a shame because getting this right has an enormous impact on everything from federal spending to representation in Congress.

With that in mind, it was disappointing when Census Bureau Director John Thompson, in the midst of a funding fight, decided to resign unexpectedly in May. Making matters worse, we’re just now getting a look at the replacement Donald Trump apparently has in mind. Politico reports:

The Trump administration is leaning toward naming Thomas Brunell, a Texas professor with no government experience, to the top operational job at the U.S. Census Bureau, according to two people who have been briefed on the bureau’s plans.

Brunell, a political science professor, has testified more than half a dozen times on behalf of Republican efforts to redraw congressional districts, and is the author of a 2008 book titled “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.”

Some Trump personal choices are alarming, some are disheartening, and some belong in the you-have-got-to-be-kidding me category.

As Slate explained earlier this year, “The decennial census is critical to ensuring that Americans are fairly represented in Washington, since it’s used as the basis for congressional redistricting. A mishandled census could undercount poor and minority populations, putting some states and many cities at a demographic disadvantage.”

It’s against this backdrop that Trump is eyeing someone who has not only played a direct role in helping Republican gerrymandering efforts, but who quite literally wrote a book criticizing competitive elections.

Continue reading

Sen. John Kavanagh to pursue anti-immigrant bill that would cost the state federal money

The U.S. Supreme Court currently has pending before it an apportionment/redistricting case from Texas, Evenwel v. Abbott, in which the plaintiffs challenged redistricting on the grounds that the legislature should use eligible voters, rather than total population, as the relevant measure for apportionment. Each district, in other words, should have roughly the same number of eligible voters, not the same number of people.

This would not only exclude non-citizens but also American citizens who are not registered to vote, minor children and felons. As was explained to the Justices in amicus briefs and at oral argument, there is no existing data base that would allow for such a calculation. All states rely on the decennial census population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to carry out the census in “such manner as they shall by Law direct” (Article I, Section 2). The legal authority for collecting the data resides in Title 13 of the U.S.C. or the “Census Act.”

That Census data is used not just for redistricting but for distribution formulas for federal revenue sharing to state and local communities for health, education, welfare, public safety, housing, transportation, etc.

The twisted logic of Evenwel appears to be behind the latest anti-immigrant nativist proposal from Sen. John Kavanagh, an acolyte of disgraced and recalled former Senator Russell Pearce and crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio. Lawmaker: Don’t let Census count illegal residents:

Arpaio1A state lawmaker wants to block communities trying to boost their revenues through a special interim census from counting residents who are not in this country legally.

The legislation crafted by Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, would allow cities, towns and counties to count only those who are U.S. citizens, nationals of U.S. territories, or are legally admitted to the United States. More to the point, SB 1044 would forbid counting anyone who is an illegal immigrant.

Continue reading

Democrats prepare for redistricting in 2020

The_Gerry-Mander_EditDemocrats have finally learned their lesson, one hopes, after the debacle of the 2010 election in which GOP majorities were elected in statehouses and Congress that then gerrymandered their way into safe districts that are mostly safe until 2020, when the next decennial census occurs and is followed by the next redistricting battles.

Huffington Post reports, Democrats Are Already Planning For The Next Round Of Redistricting Battles:

Democrats launched a super PAC Thursday with the purpose of flipping state legislatures before the next round of redistricting, which will follow the 2020 elections.

The PAC, called Advantage 2020, will be led by Mark Schauer, a former Democratic congressman and Michigan state Senate leader who lost the state’s gubernatorial race to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder last year. Advantage 2020 plans to spend about $70 million over the next three elections in an attempt to chip away at GOP majorities in key battleground states where Republicans established legislative districts after the 2010 elections.

Continue reading