(Note: Just as this was being published, the president reversed course again, and now again insists he will find a way to include the question at issue.)

The Trump administration has given up too quickly on its plans to add a question about citizenship to the decennial census. Still, it was disgraceful that Chief Justice John Roberts and four of Roberts’ colleagues put the question in jeopardy in the first place.

It defies belief that the Supreme Court could rule a question about citizenship ineligible. The whole point of a census is to catalog the nation’s inhabitants. Surely it is within reason that the government would want to know how many citizens there are, and how many noncitizen residents. Indeed, it is a question that has been asked on almost every census in the nation’s history. It also is important because ongoing litigation is trying to determine whether noncitizens or illegal immigrants should be included in the arithmetic governing the apportionment of congressional seats.

If Alabama and other states win their argument that some or all noncitizen immigrants should not be included in reapportionment counts, how are they to get their desired relief if the government doesn’t have an accurate count of citizens only?

Furthermore, as columnist Deroy Murdock argues convincingly, it is ludicrous to rule out the question just because the motives were supposedly political. After all, the motives of those challenging the question are at least equally political. Writing in dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas was absolutely right, also, to note how “extraordinary” it was for the court majority to make “an unauthorized inquiry into evidence not properly before it to reach an unsupported conclusion.”

If the administration had adequate time, it had a rather good chance of actually winning the case once it wove its way back through the court process….

[The full column is here.]


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