What do Republican gerrymandering and the 2020 census have in common?
They share the same architect. Yes, this architect worked on these democracy-bending projects for the Republicans in order to be “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” We’ve all guessed this, and some evidence has come up that points to that theory, but thanks to incredible reporting and one pissed-off daughter, we now have the proof that this is EXACTLY what the Republicans have been working towards.
What happened last week?
Late in 2017, we learned the Trump administration wanted to add a citizenship question to the Census, something that hasn’t been done for good reason for over 50 years. Adding the question would create a situation that severely undercounts the population by several millions, and thereby the amount of money going to those communities, and even how many Reps their state gets.
The ACLU sued the federal government to get the citizenship question taken off. (You can find a short video about this case HERE.) The White House keeps losing the court fights but has appealed and the issue has gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The oral arguments were heard a couple of months ago and the justices are now deliberating.
BUT, last week, documents from Thomas Hofeller were released to the public by his estranged daughter who found them on a hard drive. (Hofeller died last August.) Hofeller is the architect behind the Republican plans to gerrymander districts in the state, and now we learn, to rig the 2020 Census to lock in more power for Republicans and white people. Read this, from Rolling Stone:
Thomas Hofeller — the late Republican strategist with a special talent for shaping racially discriminatory districts in places like North Carolina — “played a significant role in orchestrating the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Decennial Census” before his death last summer and intended to shape the citizenship question “in order to create a structural electoral advantage for, in his own words, ‘Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.’” Hofeller also added that it “would clearly be a disadvantage for the Democrats” and successfully predicted that implementing the question would “provoke a high degree of resistance from Democrats and the major minority groups in the nation.”
The emergence of Hofeller’s documents and clear intent to lock in white Republican power is a game changer.
Will this affect the case in front of SCOTUS?
The release of the documents to the public last week sparked an immediate outcry. The ACLU has already filed a letter in the district court to make the Supreme Court aware of this. What’s key here is that the federal government has been arguing that they want to add the citizenship question to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, a load of malarkey, but now we have absolute proof that it is malarkey.
“All of this shows that the administration not only dissembled about its purpose in adding the question,” [ACLU Voting Rights Director Dale] Ho tells Rolling Stone, “but that is true purpose was the precise opposite of what it claimed it to be: to dilute minority voting power, rather than to protect minority voting rights.”
It is anyone’s guess at this point if this new information will be considered by the Court as they deliberate and get ready to make a ruling on the case.
Is there anything we can do?
I’m loathe to write about infuriating topics like this without some kind of action we can all take, but in this case, I think we have to wait it out. The Supreme Court will make its decision. And whichever way it goes, each state’s own supreme court will be able to interpret the federal ruling. So, as always, it comes down to voting. Pay attention to your state elections, especially when any judgeships come open.
For more reading, Check out Mother Jones’ Hidden Figures: How Donald Trump Is Rigging the Census.