Manhattan and Obama-appointd Federal Judge Jesse M. Furman took 277 pages to justify tossing a planned citizenship question off the 2020 census.
He needed more space. His ruling was riven with double-speak, contorted logic and, worse, partisanship so extreme that it sounded like a campaign speech. I'm not a lawyer, but I can smell the odor of a bent-over-backwards ruling that, above all else, attempts to embarrass the Trump administration.
The Justice Department asked for the question to be restored to the census because it would help the department to better enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Furman, in effect, called the request a transparent lie. The request, he wrote, while constitutional was unreasonable and not reasonably explained. Never mind that the citizenship question was in every census between 1820 and 1950, with the exception of 1840. In 1960, the government stopped asking a citizenship question of every respondent.
In short, Furman was rationalizing the liberal Democratic maxim that asking a citizenship question would produce an inaccurate count because it would scare away illegal immigrants. Immigrants whom they believe will vote Democratic.
So, you can't ask about someone's citizenship, but you can ask, as the census does, whether you are a same-sex couple living together.
Other questions on the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, asked of selected households, are enough to scare anyone away from cooperating (The law says you must.):
"Which of the following Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander groups (are/is) (you/he/she)? Native Hawaiian; Guamanian or Chamorro; Samoan; or another Pacific Islander group?" Huh?
Also: How many apartments are in your building? When was it built? Do you live in a mobile home? Do you own a smart phone or laptop? How do you heat your home; if you burn wood in your fireplace for heat, how much does the wood cost? What's your monthly electricity bill? What's your condominium fee? Do you use food stamps? What's your home's market value? The children in your home--are the adopted or are they step children? Did you attend pre-school?
Race and sex are asked of everyone, with out acknowledging the fluidity and legitimacy of each label. Race is not a scientific concept, so why ask it at all? And according to the Census Bureau, you're either male or female, nothing about "gender fluidity" or the other in-between and questioning self-definitions now so trendy.
I'm nor arguing the law here; I'm arguing policy. And despite all the legal mumbo jumbo in Furman's opinion he's essentially doing the same thing--arguing policy. If asking a citizenship question is bad policy and should be excluded from the questionnaire, Congress should say so and not a judge. Which, to my knowledge, Congress hasn't.
Where are the privacy hawks?
As I've written before:
Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress [not the judiciary] to carry out the census in "such manner as they shall by Law direct." It's original purpose was to count heads for accurate proportional representation in Congress. The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that asking for more information is constitutional. But is it wise? Does it respect privacy? Is it cost effective?
Congress has bent to lobbyists to count this and that for their own purposes. The victimhood industry demands data to "prove" that millions of Americans are oppressed. The marketing industry wants data that's useful for deciding who to bug with those telemarketing calls. Demographers need something to do and to justify their taxpayer subsidized studies. And more.
Maybe it's time to return to when the census was conducted as the Constitution intended: Just counting heads.