Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has shed light on what may be driving the Trump administration’s push to ask about citizenship in the 2020 Census. In an op-ed written for Breitbart, Kobach endorses an approach to drawing voting districts in a way that would undermine the political power of immigrant-heavy communities. That approach, which culminated in a 2016 Supreme Court case, emerges from decades-old conservative opposition to the priniciple of “one person, one vote.” Kobach, a Republican who led President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission, is known for pushing restrictive voting laws. In the op-ed, Kobach backs the idea of asking citizenship on the Census, something the Justice Department has also requested to be included on 2020 questionnaire. Kobach suggests that doing so would encourage states to draw districts based on number of citizens or some similar metric. Currently, states draw districts based on total population.
“If and when the citizenship question is ever returned to the census, and Congress considers excluding illegal aliens from the apportionment process, liberals in districts loaded with illegal aliens will protest that such aliens must be counted in apportionment,” Kobach wrote. “But that’s absurd, because a person who’s very presence in the United States is illegal — and who may return home or be deported at any time — cannot be considered a resident of the district in any meaningful sense.”
The question of whether districts should be drawn by total number of citizens or eligible voters, instead of total number of people was at the heart of the case that went to the Supreme Court, Evenwel v. Abbott. The lawsuit, spearheaded by conservative legal advocate Edward Blum, argued that Texas’ state legislative districts were unconstitutional because they were drawn based on total population.