Adam H. Kerman
2019-06-27 21:29:20 UTC
Two much-anticipated opinions were released today.
Department of Commerce v. New York
Holding: The secretary of the Department of Commerce did not violate the
enumeration clause or the Census Act in deciding to reinstate a
citizenship question on the 2020 census questionnaire, but the district
court was warranted in remanding the case back to the agency where the
evidence tells a story that does not match the secretary's explanation
for his decision.
Roberts wrote the opinion for the majority, but Parts I and II of his
opinion were unanimous, and the rest of it was supported by some,
opposed by some, with some justices both supporting and opposing
portions of the opinion.
Basically, John Roberts said that the Trump administration could have
gotten away with it by properly following procedure and making a
legitimate legal argument. He essentially said the Secretary of
Commerce lied about the government's motives for adding the question.
I've offered my theory before, what with the revelation that the Census
question change came from a Republican political consultant, now
deceased, who specializes in gerrymandering on behalf of the Republican
majority in several state legislatures. His motives weren't to
intimidate certain people into failing to complete the questionaire. I
never bought that at all, given the number of Hispanics in states the
Republicans would hope to have a larger Congressional delegation from,
including Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Florida, so I don't see any
motive for an undercount.
Rather, the consultant wanted the question asked on the Census and not
the American Community Survey to improve his gerrymandered maps. Citizen
versus noncitizen is an indication of how many people are eligible to
register to vote.
But the potential for an undercount among Hispanics was a nice
distraction, for the Census isn't really the basis for our democracy. In
legislative districts, that there's some chance to elect representatives
of the people and not packing districts with voters to get a reliable
result, is the far more important issue. With better districts, a
potential undercount among a population group is irrelevant.
I'd say the Democratic Party missed the boat on this one, but they
practice partisan gerrymandering in state legislatures too, like my
Rucho v. Common Cause, consolidated with Lamone v. Benisek
5-4 opinion by Roberts; Kagan's dissent was joined by Ginsburg, Breyer,
Holding: Partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions
beyond the reach of the federal courts.
This opinion is disgusting, given that Radical Republican
Reconstruction-era civil rights legislation and Voting Rights Act of
1964, both enforcing the 15th Amendment, put redistricting issues into
the hands of the federal courts.
In my opinion, democracy is best served with districts that aren't safe
seats for incumbants, that aren't packed with predictable voters, that
could switch back and forth between parties. When politicians have to
run harder for re-election, we get better elected officials.