For the last two years, the 2020 census has been somewhat a prisoner of the court system. The Department of Commerce, charged with carrying out the decennial task, announced that a question on citizenship would be returned to the questionnaire.
Liberal and immigration rights groups objected, complete with court filings, and on Thursday, the Supreme Court of the United States, in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, failed to give the Commerce Department a green light to go ahead and print up the papers more or less saying they did not like the explanation the Commerce people gave for why the question should be returned after a decades-long absence.
Roberts wrote “that the decision to reinstate a citizenship question cannot be adequately explained in terms of [the Department of Justice’s] request for improved citizenship data to better enforce the [Voting Rights Act] VRA.”
“Several points, considered together, reveal a significant mismatch between the decision [Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross] made and the rationale he provided.”
Roberts pointed to evidence showing that Ross, whose department oversees the census, intended to include a citizenship question on the census “about a week into his tenure, but it contains no hint that he was considering VRA enforcement in connection with that project.”
And he noted that the Justice Department didn’t indicate any interest in the citizenship data until contacted by Commerce officials, and that the evidence “suggests that DOJ’s interest was directed more to helping the Commerce Department than to securing the data.”
“Altogether, the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the secretary gave for his decision,” Roberts wrote.
“In the Secretary’s telling, Commerce was simply acting on a routine data request from another agency. Yet the materials before us indicate that Commerce went to great lengths to elicit the request from DOJ (or any other willing agency),” he continued. “And unlike a typical case in which an agency may have both stated and unstated reasons for a decision, here the VRA enforcement rationale—the sole stated reason—seems to have been contrived. We are presented, in other words, with an explanation for agency action that is incongruent with what the record reveals about the agency’s priorities and decisionmaking process.”
Most ordinary Americans do not understand what the objection is. Only citizens are allowed to vote, and only citizens should be counted in the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives. By eliminating that question, even if people do not tell the truth, illegal aliens, and non-citizen residents can be counted in a process that was never intended to include them.