Since March, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has been under pressure to explain the grotesquely racist question concerning citizenship that was set to appear on forms to be used in the upcoming 2020 U.S. census. Lawsuits have been filed arguing that Ross concealed the actual intent behind the decision to include the question that had previously only been included in the longer census form sent to fewer than 20% of recipients (the long form was discontinued after the 2000 census). The government, shielded by the Department of Justice, has tried to stop any and all movement forward in deposing the bad actors of this event. At the end of September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld a previous court decision by Judge Jesse Furman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, who ordered depositions of Wilbur Ross and Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. This followed Ross’s incredibly suspect first excuse for including the unconstitutional question, that the DOJ had asked him to to assist in enforcing the Voting Rights Act. Lawsuits followed, and in June, Ross suddenly remembered a whole lot of new stuff.
He had not told the full story, he informed the courts in a “supplemental memorandum.” Ross said in the letter that he had been considering adding the citizenship question for some time before bringing in the Justice Department. Ross got the department to “initiate” the request, asking for a letter from Gore that claimed that the question was necessary to enforce the Voting Rights Act. “My staff and I consulted with Federal governmental components and inquired whether the Department of Justice would support, and if so would request, including of a citizenship question as consistent with and useful for enforcement of the Voting Rights Act,” Ross wrote.
Now, Freedom of Information Act documents have shown that not only did Ross speak with Steve Bannon about this, but that notorious racist (and current candidate for governor of Kansas) Kris Kobach was also there. The DOJ’s second supplemental response has this little walk down memory lane.
Mary Blanche Hankey, James McHenry, Gene Hamilton, Danielle Cutrona, John Gore, and Jefferson Sessions. Although Kris Kobach is not a "government official" within the meaning of the Supplemental Memorandum, the Defendants identify him nonetheless for the sake of completeness. Secretary Ross recalls that Steven Bannon called Secretary Ross in the Spring of 2017 to ask Secretary Ross if he would be willing to speak to then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach about Secretary Kobach's ideas about a possible citizenship question on the decennial census. The Defendants therefore are also listing Mr. Bannon for the sake of completeness.
In addition, Secretary Ross discussed the possible reinstatement of a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census with Attorney General Sessions in the Spring of 2017 and at subsequent times.
If the Democrats take back the House this November, they will be in a position to stop this racist census decision.
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