(LOS ANGELES) – The U.S. Department of Justice today sent a letter to the U.S. Supreme Court asking the justices to rule on the Equal Protection claim currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District and a district court in Maryland.
The Trump administration’s request, seeking disposition of the lawsuit filed by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC), comes just hours after the Fourth Circuit ruled that a federal judge in Maryland will determine whether newly discovered evidence indicates unconstitutional discriminatory intent was behind the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
Last week, U.S. District Court Judge George J. Hazel indicated that he believed newly discovered evidence presented by MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC raised “a substantial issue” in the only lawsuit still pending that alleges that the Trump administration sought to intentionally discriminate against Latinos and non-citizens when it acted in 2018 to add a citizenship question to the Census.
That new evidence showed direct contact among Thomas B. Hofeller, a GOP strategist, Commerce Department officials, and Trump transition team members about adding the citizenship question in order to shift political power in favor of white voters and away from Hispanic voters. The Census Bureau is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Judge Hazel indicated in a longer opinion issued this week that “it is becoming difficult to avoid seeing that which is increasingly clear. As more puzzle pieces are placed on the mat, a disturbing picture of the decisionmakers’ motives takes shape.”
The Fourth Circuit agreed to remand the case but retains jurisdiction.
Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s letter:
“Today’s letter from the Solicitor General to the Supreme Court is a clear indication of the Department of Justice’s utter disregard for due process. Government lawyers are supposed to be evenhanded defenders of the law even as they represent the government, not partisan hacks. The letter is premised on an implied immovable June 30 deadline, but sworn testimony from the Census Bureau has indicated that the deadline can move to as late as October. The letter requests that the Court issue an unconstitutional advisory opinion on a matter that has not been briefed or argued before the Court, and relating to a case whose plaintiffs are not currently represented in the Court. Due process matters. We should all ask why the federal government is in such a rush to ramrod through a decision – to add a citizenship question to Census 2020 – whose origin has now been thoroughly discredited multiple times.”