Recently unearthed documents suggest late Republican strategist Thomas B. Hofeller was a major influence in the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to The New York Times.
The documents were referenced in court on Thursday by litigants seeking to prevent Trump from adding the question, and come a few weeks before the Supreme Court rules on the legality of the potential census item.
Hofeller, who died last summer, allegedly wrote that including a citizenship question would allow the GOP to advance its gerrymandering agenda by discouraging a large portion of minorities and non-citizens from answering the census.
The strategist, who played a key role in the Republican redistricting of the last decades, also wrote key portions of a draft later used by the Department of Justice to claim that the question was necessary to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The arguments in the letter also served as a basis for Trump’s public justification of the policy.
The census has not asked respondents about their citizenship status in more than 200 years. Opponents claim the question is a central part of the Republican plan to shift political power to Republican areas when redistricting beings in 2021.