President Donald Trump may have surrendered his obsession with putting a racist citizenship question on the Census, but he also suggested a new scheme red states could adopt to rig elections for Republicans, a scheme that Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe warned about on Twitter.
During remarks in the Rose Garden on Thursday, Trump announced his decision to stand down on his fight to add a clearly racist citizenship question to the Census after the Supreme Court blocked him from trying to do so last month.
However, Trump is still trying to subvert democracy and he suggested the Supreme Court will let states do it themselves.
“Some states may want to draw state and local legislative districts based upon the voter eligible population,” Trump said. “Indeed, the same day the Supreme Court handed down the census decision, it also said it would not review certain types of districting decisions, which could encourage states to make such decisions based on voter eligibility.”
The Constitution requires a count of all persons in the United States, not just citizens. But Trump is basically telling the states to draw their own lines based on the population of eligible voters, which would exclude millions of Americans, including children, inmates, undocumented immigrants and many others who are not registered to vote. Hell, Republicans could even try to argue that minorities are not really citizens and exclude them as well. And Trump is preparing to help states by ordering all agencies to provide citizenship information.
Tribe condemned the scheme as “ominous.”
Scary subtext of the Rose Garden fiasco: Trump & Barr may try to get State Legislatures to draw congressional district lines by counting CITIZENS ONLY, rather than by counting ALL PERSONS. And they’ll use sources other than the CENSUS to do the data mining. Ominous.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) July 11, 2019
Tribe further elaborated by pointing out that Trump’s scheme attempts to exploit a Supreme Court decision that doesn’t exactly make it mandatory for states to draw lines based on a count of all persons, and that such a scheme violates the 14th Amendment.
To be clear: The 2 threats are (1) exploiting the Evenwel v Abbot (2016) option to get more states to use eligible voters as the internal measure of 1 person/1 vote; (2) finding a sneaky way to allocate representation in Congress by counting only citizens in violation of 14th Am
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) July 12, 2019
Republicans may want to think twice before going through with this scheme. Because the logic dictates that if red states draw congressional lines based on a count of eligible voters while blue states count everyone, Democrats will end up with more seats in Congress. It sounds like Republicans would just be shooting themselves in the foot if they went through with it. But since when have Republicans ever listened to logic?
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