A group that challenged the Trump administration’s failed effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census formally petitioned a federal judge in New York on Tuesday to impose sanctions on senior officials at the Commerce Department and Department of Justice for what they described as fraudulent legal conduct. The group—composed of the ACLU, the state of New York, and the New York Immigration Coalition—has accused the senior officials of hiding the truth by providing “false or misleading testimony” about the question’s origin. “Defendants and their senior officials concealed facts about the case’s central issues through a concerted campaign of delay and obfuscation,” reads the motion filed Tuesday. “... It is of the utmost importance that such senior government officials be held to the highest ethical standards.”
The motion argues that the false or misleading testimony obscured evidence of the question’s true purpose — “suppressing the political power of minority immigrant communities.” One piece of evidence that was allegedly omitted revolves around Dr. Thomas Hofeller, a now-deceased Republican operative who, according to the motion, was the first person to propose adding the citizenship question to the Trump transition team. According to evidence provided in the filing, Hofeller did so explicitly to benefit “Republicans and non-hispanic whites.” The Trump administration has previously denied that the question was guided by discriminatory motives.