Aaron Blake at WP:
The Supreme Court was confronted with a difficult question in the past year. The Trump administration wanted to put a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, and its stated reason was to enforce the Voting Rights Act. But opponents argued this was, in fact, a thinly veiled partisan gambit to draw more GOP-friendly districts.
The court issued a remarkable rebuke of the Trump administration’s stated reason. And now, the Trump administration is pretty much acknowledging its motivation was precisely what its critics claimed.
President Trump on Tuesday signed a memorandum stating that undocumented immigrants should not be included as part of the next process of apportionment — i.e., the doling out of congressional districts that follows every census. Such a move would reduce the representation of states (many of them blue) with higher undocumented populations.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. strongly rebuked Ross and the administration, saying, “What was provided here [as a justification] was more of a distraction.”
Absent from the Trump administration’s legal defense was any indication that this was part of an effort geared toward apportionment or redistricting — the latter being the decennial drawing of new districts to reflect population shifts.
But it was part of the opposition’s case. Critics in the past year pointed to a previously unpublished 2015 presentation from the late GOP redistricting expert Tom Hofeller, which stated that using citizenship data in a state such as Texas “would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites” by diluting the influence of Democratic-leaning Hispanics. The critics argued that the Justice Department’s case for a census citizenship question closely mirrored Hofeller’s 2015 study, reinforcing the political motivations of the move.
And Trump himself seemed to affirm that aim. As the case was progressing, the president blurted out that, “Number one, you need it for Congress — you need it for Congress for districting.”
Trump’s move Tuesday suggests his comments were more than just a coincidence — and that his administration’s disavowals of this alleged goal were dishonest, at best.