The Supreme Court’s conservative justices seem down to fuck over immigrants and the communities they live in come 2020, based on their tone in Tuesday’s oral arguments over the question of whether a citizenship question should be added to the census, the New York Times reported.
Dozens of civil rights groups, state attorneys general, the tech sector and privacy advocates, and even the American Library Association have said they oppose adding a question that would ask those surveyed to disclose their citizenship status—citing concerns that it would severely depress responsiveness among all immigrants, regardless of their citizenship status. Deeply inaccurate numbers could skew congressional districts and impact the allocation of billions of federal dollars come 2021. Even experts at the Census Bureau have recommended against including the question, according to Bloomberg. In a government estimate cited by the Times, adding a citizenship question could mean around 6.5 million people go uncounted.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is fighting for the addition, dubiously arguing that citizenship data would help enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Leading up to the Supreme Court hearing the case, three federal trial judges found that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross ordered the question be added to nearly a year before he claimed he did, per the Times.
Not that any of this seems to matter to the conservatives of the court, including Trump’s judges. From Bloomberg, emphasis mine:
In an 80-minute argument Tuesday that was both technical and combative, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh directed almost all their questions to the lawyers challenging the decision to ask about citizenship. Kavanaugh said Congress gave the Commerce secretary “huge discretion” to decide what to ask on the census.
And from the Times, emphasis mine:
Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh noted that questions about citizenship had been asked on many census forms over the years and were commonplace around the world.
But by the end of the arguments, which lasted 80 minutes instead of the usual hour, the justices seemed divided along the usual lines, suggesting that the conservative majority would allow the question.
Much of the argument concerned statistical modeling. “This gets really, really technical,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said.
But not “technical” enough that the Trump club doesn’t already have their minds made up, it would seem!
Both reports said Justice Sonia Sotomayor fought back against the conservative pack, saying the question would damage the fundamental purpose of the census—to count everyone.
“There is no doubt that people will respond less,” Sotomayor reportedly said during the argument. “That has been proven in study after study.”
It’s clear that the Supreme Court is working just as Trump, and all the conservatives who pretended to distance themselves from him, had planned.