Deceased G.O.P. Strategist’s Hard Drives Reveal New Details on the Census Citizenship Question – The New York Times

Lawyers for Arnold & Porter, the law firm representing Common Cause in the North Carolina suit, subpoenaed the drives in February. By happenstance, the same firm was representing private plaintiffs pro bono in the principal lawsuit opposing the citizenship question, in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

The documents cited in the Thursday court filing include an unpublished August 2015 analysis by Mr. Hofeller, who was hired by The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news outlet financially backed by Paul Singer, a billionaire New York hedge fund manager and major Republican donor. Mr. Hofeller’s charge was to assess the impact of drawing political maps that were not based on a state’s total population — the current practice virtually everywhere in the nation — but on a slice of that population: American citizens of voting age.

At the time, the study’s sponsor was considering whether to finance a lawsuit by conservative legal advocates that argued that counting voting-age citizens was not merely acceptable, but required by the Constitution.

Mr. Hofeller’s exhaustive analysis of Texas state legislative districts concluded that such maps “would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,” and would dilute the political power of the state’s Hispanics.

The reason, he wrote, was that the maps would exclude traditionally Democratic Hispanics and their children from the population count. That would force Democratic districts to expand to meet the Constitution’s one person, one vote requirement. In turn, that would translate into fewer districts in traditionally Democratic areas, and a new opportunity for Republican mapmakers to create even stronger gerrymanders.

The strategy carried a fatal flaw, however: The detailed citizenship data that was needed to draw the maps did not exist. The only existing tally of voting-age citizens, Mr. Hofeller’s study stated, came from a statistical sample of the population largely used by the Justice Department to verify that the 1965 Voting Rights Act was ensuring the voting rights of minority groups.

“Without a question on citizenship being included on the 2020 Decennial Census questionnaire,” Mr. Hofeller wrote, “the use of citizen voting age population is functionally unworkable.”

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