When it was first announced that the government would be expanding the practice of asking a question about citizenship to all census forms in 2020 (rather than just the long forms where it’s already asked), open borders proponents were outraged. A flurry of lawsuits from blue states followed which have been tied up in the courts since that time. An answer to one aspect of a contested issue involving this question may be coming our way soon, as the Supreme Court agreed yesterday to hear a challenge from a case in New York where the court is attempting to depose Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over how the decision to add the question was made. (Washington Post)
The Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments Friday over whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross can be compelled to testify in a case regarding the Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 decennial census.
The addition of the question, which opponents say is a political move that will make the census less accurate and more costly, has been challenged in six lawsuits around the country. In New York, a trial is underway in federal court over a multistate lawsuit attempting to block the question.
In that case, U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman made a preliminary finding that there was evidence the Trump administration acted in bad faith, moving forward the lawsuit, led by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, and allowing for Ross to be deposed.
Why anyone was trying to depose Ross in the first place remains something of a mystery, at least to me. As mentioned above, this question is already asked on the long census form and nobody seemed to object to it before. The plaintiffs are arguing that there was some sort of “bad faith” aspect to the decision, but if the government wants to ask the question of everyone rather than a smaller segment of the population, how is that any different or somehow an act of bad faith?
What the blue state Attorneys General are actually upset about (aside from a kneejerk desire to thwart the Trump administration in any way they can), is that asking illegal aliens their citizenship status may prompt them to not fill out the form. This is also a tough position to defend. It’s a legal requirement for everyone to answer the census questions (see U.S. Code, Title 13, Chapter 7) though you can only be fined $100 for not answering or $500 for giving a false answer. The law also specifically states the only thing you can’t be asked and that’s information relating to any religious affiliations you may or may not have.
In the case of illegal aliens, if more of them are refusing to return their census forms (assuming they can be located to give them one), bothering with a $100 fine seems rather silly. If you can locate them to charge them with this relatively minor crime, you may as well just detain and deport them, making their contribution to the census irrelevant. Conversely, if the government needs that information to properly enforce the Voting Rights Act, it would seem to be the more pressing need in this case. Hopefully, the Supremes can sort this out for us in time for the forms to be printed.