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Census question on citizenship ruled illegal by 2nd judge

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Census question on citizenship ruled illegal by 2nd judge

A San Francisco-based district court judge in the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday ruled that the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census “threatens the very foundation of our democratic system” because it would cause a significant undercount of immigrants and Latinos that could distort the distribution of congressional seats.

The ruling by Judge Richard Seeborg, which will head to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals if challenged by the government, said the Commerce secretary’s decision to add the question was arbitrary and capricious and would violate a constitutional requirement that the census accurately count the U.S. population.

“The record in this case has clearly established that including the citizenship question on the 2020 census is fundamentally counterproductive to the goal of obtaining accurate citizenship data about the public,” Seeborg said.

Seeborg became the second judge to declare the move illegal, so the effect of his decision is limited. A federal judge in New York had previously blocked the administration from adding the question to the population count that occurs every 10 years, and the U.S. Supreme Court last month agreed to review that decision.

Legal experts have said the Trump administration has a good chance of prevailing at the Supreme Court, where justices appointed by Republican presidents hold a 5-4 majority — although Chief Justice John Roberts, who has repeatedly and publicly sought to present the court as nonpartisan, remains something of a wild card.

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“There is no credible argument to be made that asking about citizenship subverts the Constitution and federal law,” Chapman University law professor and constitutional law expert John Eastman told Fox News.

Eastman added, “I do not believe it would be illegal or unconstitutional for Congress” to go a step further and explicitly “only count citizens” in the census.

“Indeed, I have argued in a brief filed in the Supreme Court that the ‘excluding Indians not taxed’ language in the [Constitution’s] apportionment clause requires that only citizens be counted. ‘Indians not taxed’ was the example at the time of those who were not part of the body politic,” Eastman said.

Some states have echoed Eastman’s line of reasoning. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, for example, asserted last year that predicted 2020 census numbers will cause Alabama to lose a congressional seat, and thus an electoral vote, to a state with a “larger illegal alien population.”

The ruling in California, however, did find a constitutional problem with the Trump administration’s actions — and in that significant respect, it differed from the January decision by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman. Furman also found the question violated administrative requirements, but he rejected an argument that it violated the Constitution.

Seeborg found a violation of the Constitution’s Enumeration Clause, which could present another issue for the U.S. Supreme Court to consider. The clause states, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

“There is no credible argument to be made that asking about citizenship subverts the Constitution and federal law.”

— Chapman University law professor John Eastman

The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment.

The ruling came amid reports that the Census Bureau is quietly seeking comprehensive information about the legal status of millions of immigrants.

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Under a proposed plan, the Department of Homeland Security would provide the Census Bureau with a broad swath of personal data about noncitizens, including their immigration status, raising concerns among privacy and civil rights activists.

Seeborg ruled in lawsuits by California and several cities in the state that asserted the citizenship question was politically motivated and should be kept off the census.

“Justice has prevailed for each and every Californian who should raise their hands to be counted in the 2020 census without being discouraged by a citizenship question,” state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

FILE - In this Nov. 27, 2018, file photo, Elizabeth OuYang, Coordinator of New York Counts 2020, speaks during a news conference outside the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse. The Trump administration says it will appeal directly to the Supreme Court to be allowed to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, bypassing the court of appeals and seeking a final ruling by the end of June 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

FILE – In this Nov. 27, 2018, file photo, Elizabeth OuYang, Coordinator of New York Counts 2020, speaks during a news conference outside the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse. The Trump administration says it will appeal directly to the Supreme Court to be allowed to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, bypassing the court of appeals and seeking a final ruling by the end of June 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

California argued that the question would cost it a substantial amount of money and at least one congressional seat by reducing the percentage of Latinos and immigrants who respond to the survey. It said that would lead to an undercount in the state, which has a substantial number of people from both groups.

Census numbers are used to determine states’ distribution of congressional seats and billions of dollars in federal funding.

The Justice Department had argued that census officials take steps such as making in-person follow-up visits to get an accurate count. Households that skip the citizenship question but otherwise fill out a substantial portion of the questionnaire would still be counted, Justice Department attorneys said in court documents.

The Trump administration announced last March it would include a citizenship question on the 2020 count, saying the Justice Department requested its inclusion to help with enforcement of voting rights laws. But documents released through a lawsuit show Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sought to include the question months earlier.

The move sparked an outcry from Democrats, who said it would disproportionately affect blue-tinted states. People were last asked whether they were U.S. citizens in the 1950 census.

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Seeborg rejected the claim that the citizenship question stemmed from a request by the Justice Department, calling that a “pretext” for the real reason to add it.

He cited an email from Ross to a Commerce Department official nearly a year before the question was announced, in which Ross said he was “mystified” why nothing had been done in response to his “months-old request that we include the citizenship question.”

“What ensued was a cynical search to find some reason, any reason, or an agency request to justify that preordained result,” the judge said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump says he doesn’t mind if public sees Mueller’s Russia probe report

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Trump says he doesn't mind if public sees Mueller's Russia probe report

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to Ohio at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing about his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible links to the Trump campaign.

Mueller is expected to send his report to Attorney General William Barr soon.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Tim Ahmann

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Cindy McCain shares hateful message she received about her family, late husband, after latest attack from President Trump

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Cindy McCain shares hateful message she received about her family, late husband, after latest attack from President Trump

Cindy McCain shared a hateful message she received on Facebook from a stranger the same day President Donald Trump continued his attacks on her late husband, John McCain.

McCain, 64, posted a screenshot of the disgusting comment she was sent by a stranger, identified in the picture as “Tiffany Nicole.”

“I want to make sure all of you could see how kind and loving a stranger can be. I’m posting her note for her family and friends could see,” McCain wrote in a tweet accompanying the image.

The sender called McCain a vile name, labeled John McCain as “traitorous” and “warmongering.” The poster also mocked Meghan McCain’s appearance and said she hopes “The View” co-host “chokes to death.”

DONALD TRUMP’S FEUD WITH McCAIN FAMILY ESCALATES: ‘I WAS NEVER A FAN’

Just hours before McCain posted the message on Twitter, President Trump took another shot at John McCain.

“I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be,” Trump told reporters at the White House, during a meeting with Brazil’s visiting president.

The comments came after Meghan McCain, who on Monday tore into the president during an emotional segment on “The View,” went back on the offensive on social media. The 34-year-old shared a Toronto Star cartoon on Instagram showing her late father’s military medals side-by-side with a collection of pacifiers under the heading “Donald Trump.”

Later in the night, Meghan McCain responded to Trump’s most recent attacks by tweeting, “As my father always used to say to me – Illegitimi non carborundum,” which means “Don’t let the b–tards grind you down.”

MEGHAN MCCAIN SLAMS DONALD TRUMP IN EMOTIONAL ‘THE VIEW’ SEGMENT: ‘HE WILL NEVER BE A GREAT MAN’

Trump has repeatedly tweeted about John McCain in recent days, falsely claiming the late senator graduated “last in his class” at Annapolis and slamming his role in the Russia investigation.

“So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) “last in his class” (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election. He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!” Trump tweeted Sunday morning.

On Saturday, the president responded to reports McCain and an associate had shared with the FBI and various media outlets the unverified dossier alleging that Moscow held compromising information on Trump.

“Spreading the fake and totally discredited Dossier ‘is, unfortunately, a very dark stain against John McCain.’ Ken Starr, Former Independent Counsel,” Trump wrote.

MEGHAN McCAIN HAS SHARP RESPONSE TO TRUMP’S JOHN MCCAIN DOSSIER TWEET

New York, NY - 2017: (L-R) Senator John McCain, Meghan McCain on 'The View', a visit for Meghan McCain's birthday, Monday, October 23, 2017. (Photo by Heidi Gutman /ABC via Getty Images)

New York, NY – 2017: (L-R) Senator John McCain, Meghan McCain on ‘The View’, a visit for Meghan McCain’s birthday, Monday, October 23, 2017. (Photo by Heidi Gutman /ABC via Getty Images)

“He had far worse ‘stains’ than this, including thumbs down on repeal and replace [of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act] after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!”

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Trump has made a practice of attacking McCain, even after the former Arizona senator’s death in August of last year.

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Trump to host Israel’s Netanyahu March 25-26: White House

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Trump to host Israel's Netanyahu March 25-26: White House

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, March 10, 2019. Gali Tibbon/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House next Monday and Tuesday, the White House said.

“The president and the prime minister will discuss their countries’ shared interests and actions in the Middle East during a working meeting on March 25,” the White House said in a statement on Wednesday. Trump will host Netanyahu at a dinner on March 26, it said.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Tim Ahmann

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