Over a dozen extremely conservative voices in the House are calling for William Barr to invent a new rationale for the citizenship question.
Some House Republicans will do anything to get the citizenship question on the 2020 census.
A total of 19 House GOP members just sent Attorney General William Barr a letter with a laundry list of invented rationales that Trump could use to justify putting the question on there in spite of the Supreme Court ruling he couldn't do so.
Recall that the Supreme Court opinion, regrettably, left open the option that if the administration came up with a better-supported rationale than the one it had offered, which was that adding a citizenship question would help them enforce federal voting rights laws.
Even the extreme conservatives on the Court likely didn't expect the GOP would respond by saying they could completely invent a reason for the question, particularly given the administration insisted census forms needed to start printing July 1.
But that's exactly what has happened. Trump went from saying this was to enforce voting rights laws to saying it was "very important to find out if somebody is a citizen as opposed to an illegal." Attorney General William Barr said it was just fine to ignore a Supreme Court ruling. And now, members of the House GOP are begging Barr to pick a reason — any reason — to help Trump get the question on the 2020 census.
The signatories are some of the most extreme voices in the House, including Reps. Chip Roy, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, and Louie Gohmert. The reasons offered are some of the flimsiest.
The letter encourages Barr to work with Trump to "clearly outline the President's rationale for including a citizenship question." Never mind the fact that Trump already provided a reason and litigated that reason to a loss at the Supreme Court. These House members figure he can pick another reason and call it a day.
With that in mind, the letter offers entirely manufactured reasons such as "mak[ing] decisions on ballot box placement," redistricting, and "understanding the impact of immigration."
The imaginary reasons are one of the more coherent parts of the letter. Roy and company go on to observe that including the question on the census "is said to be inherently political." That is indeed the argument that many have made, particularly once it was learned that GOP operatives wanted the question on the census to give them an advantage in redistricting.
After that, things get fuzzy. The letter says that "[m]ost importantly, it's a two-way street for those who claim this is politically motivated rather than a substantive concern about getting the best data on citizens."
It isn't at all clear what is a two-way street here. Perhaps the letter writers are saying that any allegation something is politically motivated is, in itself, a politically motivated act.
In any event, though the letter should be utterly disregarded, it will probably be taken all too seriously by both Trump and Barr. They're keen to get the question on the upcoming census no matter what, so any old reason will do.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.