The House has referred criminal contempt of Congress charges to the Department of Justice for prosecution. In the short term, at least, we should prepare for more frustration, which was foreseeable. But maybe there can be some accountability this time.
The House Oversight and Government Reform has investigated for months the Commerce Department’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census (the Census Bureau is part of Commerce). Commerce and DOJ said that Commerce added the question at DOJ’s request to help with enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Civil rights groups said the real purpose, and the only purpose, was to intimidate non-citizens and relatively recent legal immigrants in order to inhibit their response to the census. According to experts, a citizenship question would likely result in an undercount of 6.5 million, disproportionately Latino.
State and local governments and civil rights groups challenged the addition of the question in court and won. First a federal trial judge and then the Supreme Court found that the reason that Commerce and DOJ gave for the question, to help DOJ enforce the Voting Rights Act, was “pretextual,” “contrived,” and “more of a distraction” than a credible rationale. The evidence showed that Commerce decided to include the question “for reasons unknown but unrelated to the VRA.”