Rather than helping Montana regain a second U.S. House seat, Republican Sen. Fred Thomas has chosen to take partisan political potshots and spread misinformation surrounding the Trump administration’s now abandoned plan to include a “citizenship question” on the 2020 Census.
The Census was established in Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution as the fundamental building block for our representative branch of government. The 14th Amendment, Section 2, further clarified U.S. House representatives shall be apportioned among the states by counting “the whole number of persons in each state.”
For the past three decades Thomas has solemnly sworn to uphold the U.S. and Montana Constitutions. The U.S. Constitution clearly requires we count everyone.
There are now six independent studies indicating Montana has a good chance to regain a second congressional district. This is mainly the result of population declines and stagnation in eight Midwestern and Eastern states rather than not accurately counting Hispanics in Texas and California.
Widely reported at the end of May, computer hard drives belonging to the late Republican gerrymandering expert Thomas Hofeller revealed his 2015 analysis that concluded having a 2020 Census citizenship question would give an electoral advantage to “Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.”
Throughout 2017 Hofeller actively worked with contacts on the Trump administration transition team and the departments of Justice and Commerce to have a citizenship question placed on the 2020 Census.
The matter ended up before the Supreme Court. In June the court ruled the Trump administration had used a “contrived” reason for including the citizenship question and said it could not be included unless they came up with a better legal justification.
After two weeks the administration’s lawyers couldn’t find any legal justification to counter the overwhelming evidence as to the real purpose for including the citizenship question. As a result they raised the “white flag” and the president issued an executive order with the goal of gathering a 100 percent count of all “citizens, non-citizens, and illegal aliens.”
The only way Montana will regain an additional congressional seat is if our population has grown fast enough relative to other states. All Montanans need to participate in the Census. All Montanans need to fill out the Census next spring and encourage family members and everyone they know to do the same.
Joe Lamson is a member of the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission.