The Administration’s Effort to Suppress Minority Political Power through the 2020 Census

Lawyers' Committee
3 min readJun 21, 2019

“The decision that nobody wanted” was the theme of the Congressional briefing held on June 10th to discuss the additional of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

At any moment, the Supreme Court will decide if adding a question to the census asking if the respondent is a citizen of the United States is constitutional. But adding a citizenship question will result in wiping millions of people from political representation, panelists warned a packed room of Congressional representatives and staffers.

The briefing, entitled “The Trump Administration Effort to Suppress Minority Political Power through the 2020 Census,” featured panelists Marcia Johnson-Blanco, co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Sara Brannon, managing attorney for the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union; Andrea Senteno, D.C. regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Keshia Morris, census and mass incarceration project manager at Common Cause; and Terry Ao Minnis, senior director of the census and voting programs at Advancing Justice AAJC.

“The Census is required as per Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution,” Johnson-Blano said. “It should be a non-partisan, shared action. It should not be weaponized or politicized.”

The Trump administration first proposed adding a citizenship question to the Census in 2018, citing the information as necessary to enforcing voting rights laws. Last week, new evidence found in the documents of Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller directly links the addition of the citizenship question to a plan to create an electoral advantage for “Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,” documents show. Hofeller passed away last August.

The evidence comes at a crucial moment: seven cases were filed in response to the citizenship question, each of which are currently at varying points in the judicial process, panelists said. With an impending decision from the Supreme Court, the partisan slant and intentional disenfranchisement of minority and undocumented individuals will have a lasting effect for years to come, Minnis said.

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