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AG Mark Herring, Sen. Tim Kaine, Rep. Don Beyer, Rep. Gerry Connolly, Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights React to Supreme Court Rulings

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See below for reactions to this morning’s Supreme Court rulings by Virginia elected officials.

From AG Mark Herring:

SUPREME COURT BLOCKS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION EFFORTS TO SABOTAGE CENSUS
~ Court agrees with Herring and fellow attorneys general that Administration is lying about its rationale for including a citizenship inquiry ~
RICHMOND (June 27, 2019) – In a win for Attorney General Mark R. Herring and his fellow state attorneys general, the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the Trump Administration’s attempts to sabotage the census with a poison pill citizenship inquiry designed to suppress response rates. Attorney General Herring and his colleagues sued the Department of Commerce in April 2018 to protect the census, and successfully argued that the Trump Administration was not being honest about its motivations for including the citizenship question.
The Supreme Court found that the Trump Administration’s rationale for including the question “was more of a distraction” that “seems to have been contrived,” and that inclusion of the question “cannot be adequately explained” by the Trump Administration’s claims. The Court found “a significant mismatch between the decision the [Commerce] Secretary made and the rationale he provided.”
“The Trump Administration was trying to intentionally sabotage the census with a poison pill provision that its own Census Bureau admits would reduce response rates and lead to an inaccurate counting,” said Attorney General Herring. “Fortunately, the Court saw through the Administration’s cover story and has, for now, protected the accuracy of the census. I hope the Trump Administration will put an end to this misguided effort, rather than conjure up another contrived reason for its actions.
“The Trump Administration’s motivations are obvious: it wants to undercount communities it doesn’t like. A federal judge in Maryland said earlier this week that ‘it is becoming difficult to avoid seeing that which is increasingly clear’ after he recently unearthed evidence revealed that a Republican operative pushed the citizenship inquiry as ‘a disadvantage to Democrats’ and ‘advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.’
“The census isn’t just some small thing the government does every ten years. It will affect legislative districts at the state and federal level, healthcare and transportation funding, and so much more. This ruling protects the census for now, though future proceedings appear likely. We will continue to fight to protect the accuracy of the census, and to ensure courts see the evidence that makes the administration’s true motives clear.”
Today’s decision came after Attorney General Herring and his colleagues filed alawsuit in April 2018 to block the Trump Administration from undermining the 2020 decennial Census with a “poison pill” citizenship question that the U.S. Census Bureau said would likely depress response and compromise the accuracy of the census. The lawsuit emphasized the irreparable harm that would result from inaccuracies in the 2020 Census. Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds are directly tied to demographic information obtained through the census, including the Highway Trust Fund and other Department of Transportation grants, Child Care Development Grants, and Medicaid. Consequently, inaccurate counts can potentially deprive states of much-needed funds designed to protect low-income and vulnerable communities.
Additionally, the coalition filed official comments in August 2018 urging the Census Bureau to reconsider its decision to include an unnecessary citizenship question that would impair the Bureau’s essential function of counting all people in the 2020 census. The comments explained that demanding citizenship information on the Census would depress response rates in cities and states with large immigrant populations, directly threatening those states’ fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College, as well as billions of dollars in critical federal funds.
A total of $700 billion is distributed annually to nearly 300 different census-guided federal grant and funding programs. In FY2015, Virginia received over $953 million in Highway Trust Fund grants, over $131 million in Urbanized Area Formula Grants, and nearly $64 million in Child Care Development grants, all based on census data.

From Sen. Tim Kaine:

KAINE STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT CENSUS AND GERRYMANDERING DECISIONS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement today on the Supreme Court’s decisions in Department of Commerce v. New YorkRucho v. Common Cause, and Lamone v. Benisek:

“I’m pleased the citizenship question will remain off the census for now, and I hope it will stay off. Turning the census into an ideological tool to intimidate immigrants is immoral and could result in Virginia being undercounted next year, reducing our fair share of federal dollars.

“I’m disappointed the Supreme Court will allow partisan gerrymandering to continue plaguing our system. Voters should pick their leaders, not the other way around.”

In April, Senator Kaine cosigned an amicus curiae brief urging the Supreme Court to rule against the Trump Administration’s citizenship question.

From Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA08):

Beyer’s Fair Representation Act Would Fix Damage Done By Supreme Court Gerrymandering Decision

June 27, 2019 (Washington, D.C.) – Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) issued the following statement today upon the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling against challenges to partisan gerrymandering in Rucho v. Common Cause:

“This infuriating, political decision will dismay everyone who opposes partisan gerrymandering, which is a terrible and undemocratic practice no matter who does it. Any system that allows politicians to choose their voters instead of voters choosing their elected leaders is fundamentally wrong.  With the Supreme Court’s failure today, we need legislation to fix partisan gerrymandering. My forthcoming bill, the Fair Representation Act, would do so.”

Beyer first introduced the Fair Representation Act, which would institute a national system by which Representatives are elected using ranked choice voting to represent multi-member districts drawn by independent redistricting commissions, two years ago.

From Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA11):

Connolly Statement on SCOTUS Census Decision

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Chairman of the House Government Operations subcommittee, released the following statement on today’s Supreme Court census decision:

“Shortly before the Administration announced its plan to add a citizenship question to the decennial census, I spoke personally with Secretary Wilbur Ross to share my deep concerns about the harm such a question would do to the integrity and accuracy of the Census. What was clear at the time of the phone call, and has now been confirmed by the Supreme Court, is that Mr. Ross had already made up his mind and was just checking a box. Now, after testimony, rigorous oversight, and the revelation of the Hofeller documents made available posthumously, the Supreme Court has ruled that Secretary Ross lied to Congress and the American public. This is a vindication of the work of the House Oversight Committee and demonstrates the importance of our ongoing investigations and oversight responsibilities.

There is everlasting shame brought to the Trump Administration in its original motivations to add this question. It was designed to suppress the participation of minorities, people of color, and immigrants, all in a reprehensible effort to diminish their representation, including in the U.S. Congress. The fact that this would be the case debases the whole purpose of having an accurate Census, as is required by the Constitution of the United States.

While a narrow majority of the Supreme Court upheld the clear constitutional intent of the census, and struck a blow for democracy in the process, it remains deeply disturbing that four members of the highest court would, nonetheless, think it is acceptable to countenance the mendacity and patently partisan political intent of the Administration to manipulate the census to its own ends.  This is a stain these justices will wear forever.”

Supreme Court Blocks Citizenship Question

VACIR celebrates the Supreme Court’s decision to block the citizenship question

Richmond, VA – Last year, Monica Sarmiento, Executive Director of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR),  joined other community-based organizations in testifying in the Southern District Court of New York on the drawbacks of including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Today, the Supreme Court has voted to block the citizenship question from being included in the Census. Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census will scare households with undocumented members from participating, thereby harming families living in Virginia by undermining participation and causing an inaccurate count of people living in the Commonwealth. VACIR, a collaborative of 34 organizations commend the Supreme Court for ensuring the rights of immigrant families.

“Count Us In! This will be the cry across Virginia as noncitizens, their families, and families acknowledge the reasonable exclusion of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census. In fact, a few days before today’s announcement, new evidence highlighted the role of a well-known Republican gerrymandering expert in the Trump Administration’s decision to pursue a citizenship question. While we welcome the news, we are already hitting the streets to educate Asian Americans, a population that the Census Bureau found to be the least likely to complete the Census, following so many months of fear and intimidation. We know that the inclusion would have intentionally depressed the counts of noncitizens. This would carry serious implications for the political and economic well-being of Virginia and the South. NAKASEC VA is committed to fighting for full citizenship for our AAPI communities, immigrant communities, low-income communities, and communities of color.” says Sookyung Oh, Area Director,  NAKASEC VA.

“We are incredibly thankful that the Supreme Court decided to uphold the integrity of the census. Everyone who resides in the US deserves to be counted. At VACIR we are proud of the role we played in this case, and we will continue to fight for Immigrant Rights on all fronts.” said Monica Sarmiento, Executive Director at the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

 

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VACIR is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic coalition of organizations that exists to win dignity, power and quality of life for all immigrant and refugee communities.
 

From the VA Senate Dems:

“Today’s SCOTUS ruling highlights the importance of flipping Virginia blue this year! Virginia Republicans have made it clear that they’re not above racial or political gerrymandering. They’re only interested in protecting their power and their narrowly-held majority, at any cost.

It’s in the hands of voters to hold their elected officials accountable and demand fair maps. To end partisan gerrymandering and ensure fair maps, we must flip the Virginia House and Senate this year!”

From Fairfax County Supervisor (and likely the next Chair) Jeff McKay: