Will the Supreme Court ignore evidence the census is being rigged for racist reasons?

Will the Supreme Court ignore evidence the census is being rigged for racist reasons?
Official portrait of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts.

We know now that the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census was done for explicitly partisan vote-rigging reasons. But the Supreme Court may—in fact, probably will—ignore that new information in its decision on the issue later this month.

There are two sets of reasons for the court to ignore the revelation that the top Republican gerrymandering expert pushed the citizenship question as “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” One is that there’s a partisan Republican majority on the Trump court, and it wants to rule in favor of a move that is “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” There are also slightly more legitimate procedural reasons, such as that the opinion is already being written after the justices voted on the matter after April’s oral arguments, and that the new information hasn’t been thoroughly vetted and considered by the courts and included as part of the legal record.

Still, the groups opposing the citizenship question are trying valiantly to get its partisan, racist background into the courts. There will be a hearing in a New York federal district court on Wednesday, with the ACLU asking to have Trump administration officials sanctioned for hiding the documents; and plaintiffs in a Maryland case are asking the judge to consider the newly uncovered documents.

The Supreme Court could decide to consider the revelation — or anyway, proof of what we’ve known all along — that the Trump administration settled on a citizenship question for partisan and racist reasons. But this Supreme Court won’t want to admit to that, because it’s awfully inconvenient for the partisan leanings of the majority of justices. So don’t be surprised when they fall back on the procedural reasons to just ignore reality in making their decision.


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