Revelations from John Gore Deposition: “Jeff Sessions Told DOJ Not To Discuss Citizenship Question Alternatives”

Hansi Lo Wang for NPR:

In a newly-released court filing in preparation for the first trial of the citizenship question lawsuits, the plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote that John Gore testified out of court Friday that Sessions “personally made the decision to direct DOJ not to even meet with the Census Bureau to discuss alternative approaches.”

The attorneys cite Gore’s testimony to back up their claims that the decision to add the citizenship question was a misuse of the commerce secretary’s authority over the census and intended to discriminate against immigrant communities of color….

For decades, the federal government has relied on citizenship information to make sure the voting power of racial and language minorities is not diluted. Since the Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965, the Justice Department has enforced the law’s protections against discrimination by using estimates of U.S. citizens from a Census Bureau survey now known as the American Community Survey. About one in 38 households in the U.S. are required by law to complete that survey every year.

In its December 2017 letter to the Census Bureau, however, the Justice Department said that collecting citizenship data from every household through the once-a-decade census would be “more appropriate” to use for enforcing Voting Rights Act and redistricting.

Still, Gore does not seem sure if the data collected from the new citizenship question would be more accurate.

According to the plaintiffs’ filing, Gore testified Friday that “he does not even know if citizenship data based on responses to a citizenship question on the census will have smaller or larger margins of error, or will be any more precise, than the existing citizenship data on which DOJ currently relies.”

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