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May 30 2019

Charlotte’s Web

The background is the Republican plan to insert a citizenship question into the 2020 Census so they can disenfranchise Hispanics and Gerrymander more effectively. The new news is that when Thomas Hofeller, Republican operative out of North Carolina, died in August all his computer stuff went to his “estranged” daughter who promptly turned to Common Cause and said “rip it and ditch it.”

He was deeply involved in this Institutional Republican Conspiracy and of course there is “smoking gun” documentation all over his storage.

From Common Cause the information went to the ACLU which happens to have a case before the Supreme Court seeking to block the policy and they have filed an amended brief in the Court of Original Jurisdiction and notified the Supremes of the filing.

I’m not holding my breath based on the integrity of this Court. The only way Republicans can win is to cheat and they are all so depraved and corrupt they do it openly and without shame.

Gore v. Bush, do you think the Court has improved since then?

Despite Trump administration denials, new evidence suggests census citizenship question was crafted to benefit white Republicans
By Tara Bahrampour and Robert Barnes, Washington Post
May 30, 2019

Just weeks before the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, new evidence emerged Thursday suggesting the question was crafted specifically to give an electoral advantage to white Republicans.

The evidence was found in the files of the prominent Republican redistricting strategist Thomas Hofeller after his death in August. It reveals that Hofeller “played a significant role in orchestrating the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Decennial Census in order to create a structural electoral advantage for, in his own words, ‘Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites,’ ” and that Trump administration officials purposely obscured Hofeller’s role in court proceedings, lawyers for plaintiffs challenging the question wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman. Furman was one of three federal judges who ruled against the question this year.

The letter drew on new information discovered on hard drives belonging to Hofeller, which were found accidentally by Hofeller’s estranged daughter. Stephanie Hofeller Lizon then shared them with the organization Common Cause for a gerrymandering lawsuit it is pursuing in North Carolina.

The files show that Hofeller concluded in a 2015 study that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and benefit white Republicans in redistricting. Hofeller then pushed the idea with the Trump administration in 2017, according to the lawyers’ letter to Furman.

The evidence, which was first reported by The New York Times, contradicts sworn testimony by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s expert adviser A. Mark Neuman and senior Justice Department official John Gore, as well as other testimony by defendants, the letter said.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion in district court Thursday morning for “sanctions and any other relief the court deems appropriate, because of apparently untruthful testimony” by Trump administration officials in the earlier trials, said Dale Ho, who argued the case at the Supreme Court on behalf of the ACLU.

It is unclear how the information might affect deliberations at the Supreme Court. The ACLU Thursday afternoon filed a letter with the court to “respectfully inform” it of the motion filed in the New York district court and that a hearing was scheduled for next week.

The letter repeated the charge contained in the earlier letter to Furman that Hofeller played a significant role in adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census to give white Republicans an advantage in redistricting “and that Petitioners (the government) obscured his role through affirmative misrepresentations.”

“Witnesses misrepresented the origin and purpose of their effort to add a citizenship question to the census,” Ho said in a statement accompanying release of the letter. “Their goal was not to protect voting rights, but to dilute the voting power of minority communities. We look forward to Wednesday’s hearing and will keep the Supreme Court aware of any further developments.”

The Supreme Court heard the case on April 23. Evidence in the case concluded with oral arguments that day, and it appeared the conservative majority seemed inclined to agree with the government that the decision to add the question was within the authority of the commerce secretary.

If the court followed normal procedure, it voted that week on the outcome of the case, and the justices are now writing the opinion.

The ACLU also asked the district court to allow previously redacted testimony from Neuman to be made public. On Thursday, Furman ordered that the government must provide a response by 10 a.m. Friday and called a hearing on the matter for Wednesday.

The new information indicates that blueprints for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census predated the Trump administration, but Donald Trump’s election allowed them to become a reality, Ho said.

“It just shows that there was a long-standing plan to weaponize the census to dilute minority voting power to try to forestall the electoral effects of the demographic changes that this country is undergoing,” he said.

Ho said sanctions could include fines imposed on witnesses or the government, a reopening of the case or an amendment of the final judgment to account for new evidence.

Hofeller’s files also reveal that in August 2017, he helped ghostwrite a draft Department of Justice letter to the Commerce Department requesting a citizenship question and coming up with a rationale — to help enforce the Voting Rights Act, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said. He then gave this letter to Gore, the principal deputy assistant attorney general, in October 2017, they said.

The gen­esis of that request and the rationale behind it were key questions in trials challenging the question. Ross initially had told Congress that the request was initiated by the Justice Department in a December 2017 letter, but administration documents released in the case later indicated that it came at Ross’s urging, starting months earlier. Census and voting rights experts have said the question is not needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

The Justice Department letter “bears striking similarities to Dr. Hofeller’s 2015 study, stating that a citizenship question on the Census was essential to advantaging Republicans and white voters,” the letter to Furman said. It added: “Based on this new evidence, it appears that both Neuman and Gore falsely testified about the genesis of DOJ’s request to Commerce in ways that obscured the pretextual character of the request.”

“Republican political operatives plainly want to deny communities of color the health care, education and other services they need in order to consolidate GOP power and a whiter electorate,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “We call on Congress to hold Trump administration officials — including Secretary Ross — accountable now and not to wait until after the Supreme Court ruling to do so.”

Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former staff director of the House census oversight subcommittee, said the new information undercut bureau’s years of work to plan a nonpartisan count.

“Revelations that this administration threw a grenade into that process in order to achieve partisan goals must be a gut-punch to every career Census employee whose goal is to earn the public’s trust and confidence in the 2020 Census,” she said.

In April the high court’s five conservatives seemed to lean toward allowing the question, citing the Voting Rights Act rationale and focusing not on Ross’s motivations, but rather on whether he was simply using the power he was authorized to exercise.

Deceased G.O.P. Strategist’s Hard Drives Reveal New Details on the Census Citizenship Question
By Michael Wines, The New York Times
May 30, 2019

Thomas B. Hofeller achieved near-mythic status in the Republican Party as the Michelangelo of gerrymandering, the architect of partisan political maps that cemented the party’s dominance across the country.

But after he died last summer, his estranged daughter discovered hard drives in her father’s home that revealed something else: Mr. Hofeller had played a crucial role in the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

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.

The disclosures represent the most explicit evidence to date that the Trump administration added the question to the 2020 census to advance Republican Party interests.

In Supreme Court arguments in April over the legality of the decision, the Trump administration argued that the benefits of obtaining more accurate citizenship data offset any damage stemming from the likely depressed response to the census by minority groups and noncitizens. And it dismissed charges that the Commerce Department had simply invented a justification for adding the question to the census as unsupported by the evidence.

Opponents said that the Justice Department’s rationale for seeking to add a citizenship question to the census was baldly contrived, a conclusion shared by federal judges in all three lawsuits opposing the administration’s action.

But a majority of the Supreme Court justices seemed inclined to accept the department’s explanation the question was needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act, and appeared ready to uphold the administration’s authority to alter census questions as it sees fit. The justices are expected to issue a final ruling before the court’s term ends in late June.

The filing on Thursday sought sanctions against the defendants in the lawsuit, led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr., who were accused of misrepresentations “on the central issues of this case.” Judge Jesse M. Furman of United States District Court in Manhattan set a hearing on the issue for Wednesday.

In nearly 230 years, the census has never asked all respondents whether they are American citizens. But while adding such a question might appear uncontroversial on its face, opponents have argued that it is actually central to a Republican strategy to skew political boundaries to their advantage when redistricting begins in 2021.