After considering that the Trump administration and its team of legal advisers did not provide “adequate reason,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday against the controversial citizenship question to be included in the 2020 census.
The so-called “question of discord” has had a sentence that is considered another failure of the President´s team who wanted to put an element of segregation in the instrument of population measurement, arguing logistical purposes.
The judges of the U.S. highest court had asked the Department of Commerce, which was responsible for preparing the census, to provide another explanation for the inclusion of that question. Therefore, the Court’s decision does not end this legal dispute, which could last for much of the summer, compromising the timing for printing the census questionnaire.
The high court said “no” to the question at this time, a decision that was supported by a vote in which five judges voted against it and four in favor. The formulation of the inquiry contemplates that the census questionnaire include a question about the legal status of U.S. residents, a measure that civil organizations labeled “racist and discriminatory.
John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, nominated by George W. Bush, noted that “the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross gave for his decision,” he wrote.
Trump’s executive maintains that this question is fundamental to better understand the composition of the population, but the opposition points out that, in reality, it would only serve to reduce the visibility of the immigrant community.
The decision reached the Supreme Court because in intermediate courts the measure had already been blocked by three federal judges, including Jesse M. Furman of New York, who considered it illegal.
It is necessary to specify that the census depends on the distribution of federal funds, the drawing of electoral districts for the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College.
A long-running controversy
The accusations and arguments between sides until recently only had a rhetorical tone, but things changed when it was revealed that Thomas Hofeller, a Republican Party strategist who died in August 2018, had prepared and delivered to his colleagues a report in which he recommended to include in the census that consultation in order to redesign the electoral districts in a way favorable to the interests of the conservative party.
This type of action crosses ethical lines that have been criticized by the State Department as advantageous practices in other nations, exercised mostly in regimes considered totalitarian and that have been sanctioned by the Executive of the United States with extraterritorial actions.
However, the White House’s reaction was to distance from the “Hofeller Report”, which came to light after being found by its own daughter, Stephanie Hofeller Lizon, among the roles of the strategist after his death – and to deny knowledge of its existence.
The Washington Post, in an independent investigation, revealed the existence of a series of documents, also found by Hofeller Lizon, which state that the political advisor reported his findings to Christa Jones, the current chief of staff of the U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham.
The total U.S. population estimated by the 2017 census was 325.7 million, with 14% of immigrants.
Translated by: José Espinoza