census

Fight Over Census Documents Centers on Motive for a Citizenship Question

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, has long claimed that the government needs more accurate data on citizenship to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, has long claimed that the government needs more accurate data on citizenship to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.CreditCreditLuke Sharrett for The New York Times

By Michael Wines

June 12, 2019

The fight between Congress and President Trump over census documents revolves around one crucial issue: discerning the true motive of the Trump administration when it made a historic decision to ask all residents in the country if they were an American citizen.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, has long claimed that the government needs more accurate data on citizenship to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But a growing body of evidence — unearthed in lawsuits seeking to block the question — suggests that the administration added the question to entrench Republicans in power.

Federal judges in three lawsuits have concluded that the Trump administration’s rationale for adding the question was contrived.

Judge Jesse M. Furman of the United States District Court in Manhattan, for instance, criticized Mr. Ross and his aides for giving false or misleading statements under oath as they struggled to explain their rationale.

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