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Cross Examining the 2020 Census [+Video]

The Trump Administration intends to appeal the decision of Judge Jesse Furman at the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after the Southern District of New York ruled that the Commerce Department must strike a question from the 2020 Census.

The question: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?”

The use of his question has energized the usual suspects and some disparate interests, all of which take exception to it. There is precedent for asking Census respondents about citizenship status: The American Community Survey, an annual statistical canvass of 3.5 million U.S. households conducted by the Census Bureau, asks about citizenship, and the main Census itself has done so in the past.

A number of left-of-center groups like the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU), the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of TeachersBend the ArcCenter for Popular DemocracyCommon CausePeople for the American WayRock the VoteSouthern Poverty Law CenterNational Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and scores of others have filed amicus briefs challenging the question or issued statements urging the Commerce Department and Census Bureau to drop the question on the grounds that the question will cause non-citizens not to respond to the decennial census. (The Census is required to count “the total resident population of the 50 states” for determining Congressional apportionment, or the number of Representatives to which each state is entitled.) At least 19 states and 10 cities have sued the Commerce Department over the question, citing violations of the Administrative Procedures Act and the Census Act.  These groups claim (among other things) that the citizenship question on the U.S. Census will deter certain groups, largely Hispanics and undocumented residents who fear deportation, from answering the census, depressing the number of respondents and leading to inaccuracies which have heavy political consequences.

Obtaining a reliable headcount through the census is of utmost importance to American civic life. The constitutionally mandated census determines how federal funding for government programs is distributed, how the states draw the maps of election districts which determine state elections, and how the states vote for members of Congress to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Why the Data Matters

As reported by Hayden Ludwig in early 2018, there is good reason to capture citizenship information. On a common-sense level, it is important for policymakers to know the makeup of their districts and to understand the size of (potentially) competing interests and policy agendas.

When it comes to ensuring that voting is indeed fair, citizenship data can be crucial to determine if the Justice Department needs to intervene in areas where there is suspected voter suppression. Right now, the Justice Department relies on sampling data derived from the American Community Survey. It’s especially unreliable for districts with smaller populations and in communities with high numbers of minority residents who aren’t eligible to vote.

The lawsuits also ignore the fact that the Census Bureau has been tracking citizenship data for a very long time. The now-defunct “long-form” census asked this question until it was eliminated in 2000 in favor of the American Community Survey. The American Community Survey, which is distributed to 2.6 percent of the population, asks this question of respondents every year. Furthermore, other government agencies, such as the FBI or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are not allowed to access this information.

But what’s emerging from the “resistance” to this question is a power-grab that is inherently political.

Groups on the left are concerned about supposed underreporting because areas with a high density of foreign nationals—including illegal immigrants—tend to vote for Democrats. (Many are also so-called “sanctuary cities” which do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.) A depressed population count in these areas could cost Democrats seats in the House of Representatives. After all, after the 2020 Census, the states are required to draw new district maps to reflect any changes in the population in accordance with Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. This is the opportunity Democrats have been waiting for since 2010.

Moving Redistricting Out of the Shadows

After Republicans across the country won a wave of elections in 2010, they were in power to draw (most of) the required 2011 district maps. As is predictable, a number of GOP-controlled states drew maps favorable to Republicans. (This is hardly unusual. As a rule, both sides will draw maps favorable to themselves; indeed, both sides did it in states they controlled after 2010. Watch CRC’s video on gerrymandering here.)

The Democrats have been quietly working to break up Republican-drawn district maps since 2010, when Marc Elias, chair of the political law group at Perkins Coie and counsel to a host of Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning political and nonprofit organizations, secured an exemption from the Federal Elections Commission to raise money for a coordinated litigation effort. His efforts became the National Democratic Redistricting Trust.

The effort moved into the national spotlight after former Attorney General Eric Holder founded the National Democratic Redistricting Committee(NDRC)—a registered 527 political action committee which incorporated the former Trust. (Elias remains senior advisor and general counsel to NDRC.) Litigation funded by the PAC argued that the maps constituted racial or partisan gerrymanders that violated the Voting Rights Act. As a result, new maps were drawn in Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania to name a few. In the 2018 midterm elections, Republicans lost seats in both Virginia and Pennsylvania. (The new map in North Carolina had yet to be implemented: The GOP retained its seats, although one election is unresolved.) Elias and Holder definitely helped swing the 2018 mid-term elections.

But the Census question is too important for Holder, Obama, and Elias to sit out.

Holder issued a statement through the National Democratic Redistricting Committee in March 2018, promising to litigate the case. In April, Covington & Burling, a white-shoe law firm where Eric Holder is a partner, filed a lawsuit against the Commerce Department. The plaintiffs are voters from Arizona and Maryland—an attempt by Holder to illustrate that voters in Red and Blue states are affected by the citizenship question.

According to the Washington Post, the lawsuit is being coordinated by the National Redistricting Foundation, which is closely affiliated with NDRC.

In fact, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization shares two of its three officers with the political action committee. Kelly Ward serves as NDRC executive director and President and CEO of the National Redistricting Foundation; Elisabeth Pearson sits on the board of both organizations and formerly served as the executive director of the Democratic Governors Association. The third officer, Treasurer Mitch Stewart, is a Democratic consultant whose firm counted Organizing for America as client.

The group is only a year old, but its first Form 990 revealed the nonprofit organization already has $2.85 million to dedicate to its anti-gerrymandering efforts. The Form 990 also reveals that the Foundation is a direct controlling entity of the 501(c)(4) advocacy organization, the National Redistricting Action Fund. The National Redistricting Foundation, National Redistricting Action Fund, and the NDRC all indicate they are headquartered at 700 13th Street NW, Suite 600, in Washington, D.C.—the address of Perkins Coie’s D.C. offices, where Marc Elias works.

On its own, the National Redistricting Action Fund reports it has $1.15 million in available funds. Kelly Ward, Elisabeth Pearson, and Mitch Stewart are also the three officers on the (c)(4)’s board. The group recently announced it was absorbing Organizing for Action, former President Barack Obama’s 501(c)(4) advocacy group—a reincarnation of his presidential election campaign. Organizing for Action will cease to exist. Presumably this merger will add over $5 million to the Democrats’ redistricting project as well as make the Obama campaign’s much-coveted email list available to drum up support for its version of a supposedly less gerrymandered America.

Who Will Be Asking the Questions?

As the varied lawsuits make their way through the appellate courts, newly empowered House Democrats are keeping the issue alive. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross agreed today to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The Committee, led by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) released a statement: “Committee Members expect Secretary Ross to provide complete and truthful answers to a wide range of questions, including questions regarding the ongoing preparations for the census, the addition of a citizenship question, and other topics.”

While litigators and politicians make their case to strike or include the question, time is ticking. The 2020 Census Form needs to be finalized soon, before the counting begins next year. After that, the contentious redistricting process will begin. By then the Democrats at the heart of the party’s redistricting effort will have even more money to pay for ballot initiatives, campaign expenditures, and, of course, litigation.

COLUMN BY

Christine Ravold

Christine Ravold

Christine is the Capital Research Center’s Communications Officer. She writes, edits, and serves as a press contact. She is a graduate of Rosemont College in Pennsylvania. + MORE BY CHRISTINE RAVOLD

RELATED ARTICLE: Who Runs the Census? How the bureaucracy takes power away from elected officials. – WSJ

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EDITORS NOTE: This Capital Research Center column with images is republished with permission.

Tennessee to become first state to sue over U.S. Muslim Refugee Resettlement program

Michael Patrick Leahy has a much more understandable story on what the governor has done (or not done), and what it means.  Click here for more.

The Tennessean titles this breaking news today a lot more optimistically (from our point of view) than the article actually indicates:

Haslam will allow Tennessee to become first to sue feds over refugee resettlement

Stephanie Teatro

Regular readers know that the Tennessee legislature overwhelmingly resolved to sue the federal government on 10th Amendment grounds and rather than sign the measure, the governor is going to let it go forward by not vetoing it either.

No matter! The reaction of the refugee industry activists tells me it must be good news for us!

Tennessee Immigrant Rights spokeswoman [Stephanie Teatro]: “… the governor has helped secure Tennessee’s reputation as the most unwelcoming state in the country.”

Here is just a bit of the story, read it all:

Despite having concerns, Gov. Bill Haslam will allow Tennessee to become the first state in the nation to sue the federal government over refugee resettlement on the grounds of the 10th Amendment.

On Friday, Haslam announced his decision to allow the measure, which directs Attorney General Herbert Slatery to sue the federal government for noncompliance of the Refugee Act of 1980, to become law without his signature.

[….]

Explaining his decision, Haslam noted the provisions in the bill that allows the General Assembly to hire outside counsel if Slatery refuses to pursue the case.

“I trust the Attorney General to determine whether the state has a claim in this case or in any other, and I have constitutional concerns about one branch of government telling another what to do,” Haslam said. “I am returning SJR 467 without my signature and am requesting that the Attorney General clarify whether the legislative branch actually has the authority to hire outside counsel to represent the state.”

Slatery’s office has not indicated whether he would follow the legislature’s directive.

Haslam also questioned whether it was the “proper course” for the state to attempt to dismantle the refugee act. [Shouldn’t it be a Republican governor’s job to stand up for states’ rights?—besides, the state isn’t dismantling the act, it is only asking the courts for a ruling—ed]

Read on here to get the full flavor of the waffling going on!

Regarding Ms. Teatro’s comments about “unwelcoming” states, it would be so much fun to have a competition for the most unwelcoming state in the Nation!  You could all send in your nominations!

They think that just by uttering the word “unwelcoming” you will be shaking in your boots and begging for forgiveness.

Come on Kansas, come on New Jersey!

20,000 Israelis Sue Facebook for Inciting Palestinians

The video below shows some of the incitement that led to this lawsuit. While counter-jihadists are frequently suspended or have their pages taken down altogether from Facebook, this naked incitement to hatred and murder is just fine in Zuckerbergland. No incitement to murder, no calls for violence against innocent civilians, should ever be tolerated against anyone. But when it comes to inciting violence against Israelis, it seems to be fine with almost everyone.

“20,000 Israelis sue Facebook for Palestinian incitement,” by Edna Adato, Israel Hayom, October 27, 2015:

Citing incitement against Israel, Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center on Tuesday submitted a lawsuit against Facebook in a New York court on behalf of 20,000 Israelis. The lawsuit was submitted over claims that Facebook is facilitating incitement against Israelis and encouragement to harm them.

At the onset of the current wave of terror, Shurat Hadin, which works to fight terrorism on the legal front, began a petition to recruit thousands of Israeli under the title: “Suing Facebook — Disconnecting Terror.”

The organization is asking the court in New York to issue an injunction against Facebook to remove the inciting pages, monitor the methods of incitement and block them, and hold the social networking giant responsible for allowing terrorists on its network.

“Facebook has the means to research and monitor every word that appears on its website. It cannot be that entire pages on Facebook are devoted to incitement to murder Jews and that terrorists are permitted to publish posts that become popular among their friends and encourage them to kill. It is absurd that Facebook is being transformed into a tool for supporting incitement and attacks against Jews, and we intend to put an end to it,” said Shurat Hadin.

According to the plaintiffs, “The terrorists do not come on their own. They write posts and encourage their friends to kill Jews. Facebook has been transformed into an anti-Semitic incubator for murder.”

As one example, Shurat Hadin cited the case of 19-year-old terrorist Muhannad Halabi, who wrote on his Facebook page, “I want to become a martyr,” prior to carrying out a stabbing attack the following day. Halabi stabbed Aharon Bennett and Rabbi Nehemia Lavi to death.

Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat Hadin, said that “for every Israeli that is sitting now at home — there is something that can be done against terror. Join us now. This action is important in the same way as actions to increase security on the ground and its goal is to stop the terror. Today, Facebook has become a haven for terrorists: They publish their actions on their Facebook pages, garner support, receive instructions and direction to murder Jews — and all this under the sponsorship of a commercial company that has the power to stop it easily. At the time that Facebook suffices with words and tells us that it intends ‘to remove inciting pages’ — the website is filling up more and more each moment with severe incitement, and it is our task to do everything to stop this.”

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