Trump Caves In, Won’t Put Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

President Trump is caving in to the Supreme Court. That’s too bad. I was hoping to watch the show. Instead he’s doing this:

Trump himself is typically incoherent trying to explain what this is all about, but Attorney General Bill Barr explained that they hope to use this information for apportionment. That is, they presumably want to apportion members of Congress by number of citizens per state, not number of residents. This is going to be tough sledding given the clear wording of the 14th Amendment:

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.

It says persons, not citizens, and the framers of the 14th Amendment clearly knew the difference. I suppose the Trumpies could try arguing that “Indians not taxed” really means “anyone not taxed,” and that “not taxed” means “not paying income tax” even though the income tax hadn’t been invented at the time. Other than that, I’m not sure how they could argue for apportionment based on citizens instead of residents. But that’s probably just because I’m not being creative enough.

Alternatively, Republicans could leave overall apportionment alone but try to draw congressional districts based on citizens, not residents. This would open up new avenues for gerrymandering that, for example, would probably keep Texas red for a while longer. The Supreme Court has previously signaled that it might be open to this kind of thing.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate