02:03 - Source: CNN
Supreme Court debates allowing citizenship question
Washington CNN  — 

Eric Holder, a former attorney general for the Obama administration, writes in a new op-ed that he’s “deeply concerned” the Supreme Court will allow the Trump administration to “weaponize” the 2020 US census.

“Allowing the administration to demand citizenship information from every household as part of the decennial census for the first time in more than half a century would dramatically depress the count in areas with significant Latino and immigrant populations and would reposition political representation toward areas more likely to elect Republicans,” Holder wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Thursday.

The Trump administration wants to add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 US census, which will be used to divide up congressional seats and apportion millions of dollars of federal funding. The Supreme Court has picked up the case after three lower courts issued stinging rulings striking down the question.

Holder argued that including a question about citizenship status on the census would lead to a “targeted undercount” and result in political representation and federal resources shifted away from immigrant and minority communities.

The administration, however, claims that the question is necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law.

“Given the total lack of (Voting Rights Act) enforcement by the Trump administration, this is both untrue and rank hypocrisy,” Holder fired back in his op-ed.

On Tuesday, the conservative justices, who hold a majority on the high court, showed signs that they were inclined to vote in favor of allowing the question.

In his op-ed, Holder said that a 5-4 decision along ideological lines would “would further erode the public’s trust in the Supreme Court as an apolitical body” and be viewed as “evidence that partisanship and ideology have infected the nation’s highest court.”

“If there are institutionalists on the court concerned with the perception of their important body, it is time for them to act like it,” Holder wrote. “Otherwise, we are on the verge of a profound, ill-advised reshaping of our democracy that would allow a minority party to exert majority control for the next decade and beyond and would risk the reputation of one of our most sacred institutions.”

CNN’s Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.