The administration wants the citizenship question as a way “to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protects minority voters.”
President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over 2020 census documents sought by the House Oversight Committee for its investigation into an added citizenship question.
The move came right before the Democrat-led committee prepared to vote Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for not providing subpoenaed materials.
The Department of Justice has provided 17,000 documents and multiple officials for testimony in response to their inquiries.
“By proceeding with today’s vote, you have abandoned the accommodation process with respect to your requests and subpoenas for documents concerning the Secretary’s decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The Executive Branch has engaged in food-faith [sic] efforts to satisfy the legislative needs of the Committee. Moreover, until the Committee’s abrupt decision to seek a contempt resolution, the Department was prepared to provide a significant number of additional documents responsive to the Committee’s April 2, 2019 subpoena. Unfortunately, rather than allowing the Department to complete its document production, you have chosen to go forward with an unnecessary and premature contempt vote,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a letter to Chairman Elijah Cummings Wednesday morning.
“Accordingly, this letter is to advise you that the President has asserted executive privilege over certain subpoenaed documents identified by the Committee in its June 3, 2019 letters to the Attorney General and the Secretary,” Boyd continued.
Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) announced he “would delay the vote until committee members could review the letters from the Justice Department.”
Then-Assistant Attorney General Arthur Gary asked the Census Bureau in 2017 to add the citizenship question to the census as a way “to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protects minority voters.”
Three federal courts blocked the question after the judges ruled the Commerce Department “failed to comply with federal laws requiring transparency and a reasonable basis for policy changes.”
The federal government appealed the rulings, which led them to the Supreme Court. The government’s argument in front of the justices took place at the end of March, but the ruling should come out at the end of June Insiders claimed that “the case is likely to go in favor of the administration.” From Bloomberg:
Key U.S. Supreme Court justices seemed inclined to let the Trump administration add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census in a clash that will shape the allocation of congressional seats and federal dollars.
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.
Republicans accused the Democrats of rushing the contempt vote while the case remains with the Supreme Court. The Democrats shot back that they believe Ross added the question illegally and just want answers.
The Democrats forget that “a citizenship question has appeared in some form or another on censuses throughout our history.” President Barack Obama removed these type of questions in 2010. Ken Paxton also noted in his op-ed at The Hill:
It is worth noting that the citizenship question does not ask about a person’s legal status; it merely asks about citizenship status and thus has nothing whatsoever to do with immigration enforcement. In fact, federal law prevents census data from being used for anything other than statistical analysis. That is the law and there is no evidence any agency intends to violate it.
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