Emails Reveal Citizenship Question Was Designed to Increase Republican Gerrymandering

Who came up with the bright idea to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, anyway? It turns out the answer is Thomas Hofeller, the “Michelangelo of gerrymandering,” who died last year. His daughter discovered the origin of the citizenship question in emails on his hard drive:

Files on those drives showed that he wrote a study in 2015 concluding that adding a citizenship question to the census would allow Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to stymie Democrats. And months after urging President Trump’s transition team to tack the question onto the census, he wrote the key portion of a draft Justice Department letter claiming the question was needed to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act — the rationale the administration later used to justify its decision.

Those documents, cited in a federal court filing Thursday by opponents seeking to block the citizenship question, have emerged only weeks before the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the legality of the citizenship question. Critics say adding the question would deter many immigrants from being counted and shift political power to Republican areas.

It was always obvious that the Trump administration couldn’t have cared less about enforcing the Voting Rights Act, and it must have tickled them to use that as an excuse to restrict the voting rights of people of color. They’re just a barrel of laughs, those Trumpies.

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THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

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