Newly revealed court documents show that a prominent Republican gerrymandering architect pushed the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the census to “disadvantage” Democrats while helping “Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,” The New York Times reports.
Thomas Hofeller was the Republican National Committee’s redistricting chairman for nearly two decades and helped Republicans in states like North Carolina redraw maps to cement their majorities, The Hill reported. After he died earlier this summer, his daughter discovered that hard drives on his computer revealing he was instrumental in the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
Files on the hard drives show that Hofeller wrote a 2015 study concluding that adding a citizenship question would allow Republicans to “draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to stymie Democrats,” The Times reported, adding that he urged Trump’s transition team to add the citizenship question and months later wrote a crucial part of the Justice Department’s letter dubiously claiming the question was necessary to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which the administration cited in court to justify the question.
Hofeller wrote in the study that adding the question “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” in redistricting.
Docs show Trump admin wanted citizenship question to help Republicans:
“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,” The Times reported.
The documents were cited in a court filing Thursday by groups seeking to block the question from the census. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the question is legal in the coming weeks. Critics have said the question would dissuade many immigrants from responding to the questionnaire, meaning they would be undercounted.
The census has never asked all respondents whether they are a citizen in 230 years.
Hofeller made Trump opponents’ case in docs:
Hofeller gave away the game in his documents, writing that maps would dilute the political power of Hispanics by excluding more traditionally Democratic Hispanics and their children from the population count.
“Now that the plan has been revealed, it’s important for all of us — the courts, leaders and the people — to stand up for a democracy that includes every voice,” said Kathay Feng of Common Cause, a group suing to block the citizenship question.