tv CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN June 27, 2019 7:00am-8:00am PDT
all right. top of the hour. 10:00 a.m. eastern. 7:00 a.m. pacific. i'm poppy harlow. jim sciutto is on assignment at the g-20 tomorrow but in the meantime, crucial decisions are set at the supreme court. major rulings on the trump administration's plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census and another big one coming on partisan gerrymandering. let's go to the supreme court. my colleague jessica schneider is outside. good morning. this is the final day. this is the big day.
let's begin with the census decision. >> reporter: poppy, notably, this is the final day of the first term with a solid conservative 5-4 majority. like you said, huge cases with huge political implications. notably, first and foremost, the question of whether the trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census and really time is ticking here, census officials said they need to get started on the printing process for the 2020 census by july 1st. that's within just a matter of days and the supreme court heard these arguments in april and at the time, the conservative justices really seem to lean toward allowing this question. they said it was well within the commerce secretary wilbur ross' right to include this question but since then, there has been a lot of evidence that has come out particularly by the aclu they presented in a different court, they found evidence there were political motivations behind adding this question and while this is all decided at the
supreme court, we could know within minutes. there is also another case that's playing out in maryland. a judge there has been asked to issue an injunction on this question by tomorrow. so that could be playing out in another court depending on what the supreme court does here. a lot of hot political topics and what's interesting, poppy, just a few weeks ago, justice ruth bader ginsburg gave a speech and she said she expects that we will see closely divided opinions on these closely watched cases. so that is exactly what we could see here for weeks. we've been on edge waiting for these cases and it's wait and see. >> they are coming today. in this hour. we know that. jessica, before you go, the supreme court has never truly defined partisan gerrymandering, what's too far. they've never drawn that line. today we expect they will? >> reporter: it's possible. a lot of proponents would like the supreme court to establish a test as to when politicians go
too far in drawing these congressional and state district lines for political gain. it's possible that the supreme court will finally issue this test but it's a very difficult test to establish. the supreme court may, in fact, dodge it and issue a decision on different grounds. it all remains to be seen. there's really a lot of ways these cases, the census case, the partisan gerrymandering case, a lot of different ways these could go. we're waiting and we will see in just a few minutes. >> we'll let you hop on that call, find out, come back to us, jessica, thank you very much. as we await these decisions, let's bring in our experts, chief legal analysts, jeffrey toobin is with me this morning. elizabeth and ron brownsteen. good morning. jeffrey toobin, let's begin with census. huge implications for everyone in terms of where money goes in districts, how maps are drawn, how you're represented in congress, for anyone watching or listening, this matters to you.
the central question about what can be done according to the congress clause of the constitution. also comes to the issue of motivation, jeff, was there political motivation to add this or not? >> well, there are different ways the court could look at this. the narrow way is did the trump administration follow the appropriate procedures in adding the citizenship question. the court could simply deal with it that way. the larger question is, is it a violation of the constitution to ask this question for a political motivation? because, look, everyone should understand the backdrop to this whole issue. what the plaintiffs have claimed and what there seems to be a considerable amount of evidence for is that the commerce department, the trump administration, added the question about citizenship so people of color, especially spanish speaking people, will not answer the census.
they will be afraid of being harassed, they will be afraid of immigration enforcement. they simply will avoid being named in the census. if people of color who tend to be more democratic don't answer the census, those districts will be less represented in the congress and the state legislatures. they will get less money from the federal government. that's the political backdrop to this. >> jeffrey, i want you to continue on that but add to it, we know because i believe it was six different census officials warned that by asking this, it would jeopardize the count. >> right. the question is, is that a bug or a feature? is the reason they added the citizenship question to get fewer spanish speaking people named or is that an unfortunate side effect? that's one of the issues the court might address. >> okay. so to you, elizabeth, also here at the crux of all of this is
whether or not the court is going to delay. the aclu said either rule in our favor here, essentially, or delay until the fall. you've got this letter this week from the solicitor general, noel francisco saying this is a bunch of baloney, essentially, and we have to print this thing now. >> you know, this is really a pressure cooker for chief justice roberts and his court. we've seen roberts try to make his court seem like it's not political, but he is finding himself right in the middle of this political issue, as jeffrey just laid out. incredibly important for electoral representation and for communities to get these funds that go towards safe roads, schools, health care, et cetera, and so what roberts is going to be faced with is whether he just pretends that this administration did not engage in these shenanigans, which the lower courts said were unlawful,
that the secretary of commerce, wilbur ross, did not act in good faith. that's a big deal when you're talking about something as important as the census. it might sound boring but it's incredibly important to our democracy. >> wilbur ross, the commerce secretary, has maintained, ron brownstein, he's acted well within, you know, what he can and can't adhere to the census but this is political as well and that's your expertise on this. we have the house oversight committee, just recently finding wilbur ross and the attorney general bill barr in contempt because they refuse to turn over documents to address some of these questions, to address the question about, you know, did this republican redistricting expert, dr. hoffler, in 2015, directly impact this? was his research on this the motivation here and that is the question. >> right, absolutely, and of course, we know more about wilbur ross' motivations if the supreme court did not block him
from being required to give a deposition in this case. the evidence is very powerful here. this commerce secretary claim for a long time that the justice department asked him to add the citizens question, so it could better enforce the voting rights act. in fact, the evidence is the opposite, that he solicited that request from the justice department, he consulted with the hardest liners on immigration like chris kobach and steve bannon bettfore askin the question. people who recognize "make america great again" as an attempt to restore an earlier america, this is the ultimate expression of that, because you're defining the growing diversity of the country out of existence. you're not counting it, and to elizabeth's point, this really is a critical moment for john roberts. because the one hand, he has said often, we're not a political court, does not want to be seen as a political court but in fact, on these issues that affect the underlying rules of the competition between the two parties, shelby county decision in 2013, citizens
united in 2010, the voter purge and texas redistricting decisions last year, he's been repeatedly willing to engineer 5-4 party line rulings that benefit the interest of the republican party and this is perhaps the ultimate case of that, because this will affect not only the allocation of seats as jeffrey noted within states but among the states and the reapportionment, places like california lose representation and electoral college votes. >> warned about that division, 5-4 decisions at the end of the term. we'll see what these counts are. jeffrey toobin, i learned they issued the ruling on partisan gerrymandering. this is significant for a number of reasons. they've never settled on a test on what is partisan gerrymandering. as we wait for the ruling to come down, the north carolina case brought by the democrats and the maryland case brought by the republicans. explain to people what we're about to find out as we await the decision.
>> this is another case where the interest of the republican party in particular are at stake because especially after the 2010 census, when the republicans controlled states like florida, wisconsin, ohio, pennsylvania, which some of which they don't control anymore, they drew the lines so that republicans, even though they were very evenly divided in terms of overall voters, overwhelmingly controlled the state legislative districts. and the question in this case and we'll know the answer soon is, is that constitutional? is it constitutional to draw district lines that dramatically advantage one party or the other? the maryland case, the democrats did it. if the democrats don't control as many states as the republicans. so the question which the court, as you point out, has never clearly resolved is, we know it's unlawful to discriminate on the base of race in drawing
district lines but is it constitutional to draw lines based on partisan affiliation? that's the issue in this case. >> it's the first amendment question, equal protection question but jeffrey toobin, they may not. the high court, right, they may not decide to finally set a standard or a test for that, right, they may punt it back and say, this is better decided by the political branches of government. is that right? >> well, but that's a decision. if -- >> fair enough. >> if the court says, we're not getting involved, we're going to leave it to the legislature, the legislators will continue partisan gerrymandering. so not deciding is deciding. >> elizabeth, to you, why should every american care about the decision that's about to come down on this front, because it comes down to state legislatures, et cetera. >> i mean, it's a basic american principle that the voters choose their elected representatives and not the other way around and if the supreme court does not step in to say whether or not partisan gerrymandering is
unconstitutional, then they're really turning a blind eye to that because we know that it happens, it happens on both sides but as jeffrey said right now, definitely being used more by the republican party and as he said, if chief justice roberts and his court decide not to decide, that is really going to help the fate of the future republican party, as the demographics change. you know, this goes hand in hand with the census case because we're seeing ways that the republican party is trying to change the system, so they can still stay ahead even with the changes in our country. >> all right, let me jump in, jessica schneider has the ruling for us. what did the justices decide? >> well, poppy, this may be the exact example of what justice ruth bader ginsburg was referring to a few weeks ago to expect closely divided decisions in closely watched cases. this is the case involving partisan gerrymandering. this was a 5-4 decision written by the chief justice john roberts and it says that the
courts have to stay out of these questions of whether maps are extremely partisan gerrymandering. basically, the court is saying here that the courts have no role to play and that means that all of these maps that challengers have said were partisan gerrymanders, the politicians went too far in drawing these lines for strictly political gain, the court is saying, courts cannot rule on this. this is strictly within the purview of congress. so it's quite a stark ruling here 5-4, all five conservative justices taking this stance. the courts have no role to play here. the issue here is that the chief justice writes in this majority opinion that this is strictly a political question, that the courts have no role in deciding whether or not politicians can draw these maps and how they can draw them. lower courts here have thrown out these maps. this was the case involving maps
in north carolina as well as congressional district in maryland and the lower courts, the federal judges had thrown out these maps. they had established a new standard and the supreme court today going in the complete opposite direction. not establishing a standard and instead saying that the supreme court and any other court has no role to play. they cannot decide whether or not these maps that challengers accuse politicians of partisan gerrymandering, the courts cannot step in. they cannot decide and really, this throws it back to congress to make any determination as to whether or not any sort of standard should be set, but really, the practical effect of this is that now, it gives free reign to politicians to take control of state legislatures to draw the lines, how they see fit and any court challenge cannot be mounted because the supreme court is saying this is purely a political question and that the courts should not step in here,
poppy. >> jeffrey toobin, that's exactly what you were just talking about, to punt it back to congress is making a decision, this opinion written by the chief justice john roberts who said just back in february, quote, people need to know that we are not doing politics. he is now decided there is no role for the courts in deciding how these maps are drawn and as jessica said, right down the line there. the five conservative justices siding with chief justice john roberts who wrote the majority opinion. >> two points, one, huge victory for the republican party here because it's the republicans who control most of these states, who control ohio, who control florida, who will be redistricting following the 2020 census and now this is a green light to jam all the democrats into a handful of districts and put the republicans in congress of all the rest of them. second point, this is why, in
very significant way, the country is so divided along partisan lines. that we we have now are state legislative districts and congressional districts where it's clear a democrat is going to win in some seats and clear a republican is going to win in the other. so that the only important election in those districts are the primaries. meaning, moderates need not apply. that you are going to get more conservative republicans and more liberal democrats in state legislatures and in the houses of congress. this decision is a major contributor to the polarized political society in which we live and it's only going to get more polarized because of the green light that chief justice roberts gave to state legisla legislatures today. >> more divided america going forward, brownstein? >> yes. for all the talk about not wanting to be political, when it
comes to setting the rules of politics, he's repeatedly engineered these 5-4 with five republican appointed justices, not just conservatives, outperforming to set the rules of politics from citizens united to shelby county to this in a way that benefits republicans and it might go even further because there is a countervailing movement in the states up to 20 states now that voted usually by ballot initiative to redistrict through an independent commission rather than letting the legislature draw these kinds of lines and there was a case as jeffrey knows a few years ago where john roberts voted with three other republicans appointed to invalidate the use of the independent commissions. since anthony kennedy voted with the democratic appointed justices, the independent commissions in the case of arizona were allowed to stand but pretty clear john roberts would vote to eliminate that and with brett kavanaugh on the court, it's not clear he'll allow even those kind of independent commissions to draw the lines going forward since he
voted the other way saying they were unconstitutional and, you know, because i think this ruling will spur that kind of reform or at least an effort of that kind of reform in most states because as jeff said, it's an absolute green light for states to be as aggressive as they want to be in redistricting and that's something the republican party employed to the max after the 2010 landslide that they had and the redistricting that followed. >> elizabeth, we heard a f foreshadowing of this from ruth bader ginsburg with the huge importance of the census decision, which we'll get to in a few moments to the fight over the travel ban and talked about the concern over divisions like this, 5-4 divisions, saying given the number of most watched cases, i cannot predict the relatively low sharp divisions ratio will hold. and that's exactly what happened here. >> right, and you know, it seems like a division ideologically but also i think is a division
in who has their head in the sand and who doesn't. like we saw last year with the muslim ban case. the conservative majority went forward as this was any other presidential administration that president trump did not have his tweets saying that the muslim ban was intended to attack muslims and here i think we have first with this partisan gerrymandering decision justice roberts, chief justice roberts making it seem like he's not doing politics but in reality, he's absolutely doing politics because as we've just heard from both ron and jeffrey, this will only make polarization worse and frankly, as a constitutional lawyer, i'm deeply disappointed that the court did not do its job in our constitutional system and apply the constitution of the law. you have these plaintiffs come into the court saying, our first amendment rights are being violated, our equal protection rights are being violated because we're being marginalized based on our political affiliation being packed into
these districts and the court basically denied their ability to come into the supreme court and have the constitution enforced and that's the supreme court's job and i don't think they did it in this case. >> jeffrey, i think you brought up a really salient and important point at the top there and it's about the decision made previously on racial gerrymandering and what's allowed there, versus political. so explain why the court decided one way in racial gerrymandering and this way on political. >> well, the constitution says there can be no racial discrimination. >> right. >> but as chief justice roberts points out, the constitution says nothing about political discrimination. now, the fact is, in the real world, since african-americans are overwhelmingly democratic, the line between racial discrimination and political discrimination is almost impossible to draw and democrats have been pointing out for years that, in fact, political discrimination often is racial
discrimination. but chief justice roberts was not interested in that argument. he said when democrats, you know, draw lines to benefit democrats and republicans draw district lines to benefit republicans, that's not the court's business. the constitution has nothing to say about that. that is simply a political question, not a legal question, and we're going to stay out of it. but the bright line that chief justice roberts draws in this opinion between racial discrimination, which is illegal, and political discrimination, which is legal now, that line may not exist in the real world. >> well -- >> go ahead. >> poppy. >> yes. >> last year in the texas case, they narrowed the use of racial lines. and of course, shelby county, the landmark, probably one of the two or three most significant decisions of the roberts court eliminated the
preclearance provisions of the voting rights act designed to prevent racial discrimination. it's not as though they are a bulwark against racial indiscrippindi indiscrimina indiscriminantsies. it's a consistent pattern. i quoted someone noting on these cases, you begin to get the evidence begins to accumulate what the five republican justices on the court are doing is building a perpetual motion machines that benefit the prospects and make it more likely it will be republicans taking the justices. >> so that that question of, you know, what is unjust and just, chief roberts addressed that in his majority opinion. this stands out. quote, excessive partisanship in
districting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust but the fact that such gerrymandering is incompatible with democratic prince pms, arizona state legislature does not mean that the solution lies with the federal judiciary. saying it might seem unjust but we can't solve this. >> that's exactly the holding in this opinion today and he continues on to say, poppy, and this is important in the opinion saying our conclusion does not condone excessive partisan gerrymandering nor condemn complaints about districting to echo and avoid and goes on to talk about how the states are addressing this issue, how a number of commissions have been set up in the states to address this issue of redistricting and claims of extreme partisan gerrymandering. the court saying here, we have to stay out of this. this isn't our lane. this is a political question. this should be handled by congress, also by state legislatures who are in charge of drawing these lines, but poppy, i mean, this is a sharply divided court right now and this
really is the first major case we've seen this break. 5-4, this solidly conservative majority and feeling the effects of justice anthony kennedy's retirement a year ago. justin ka justice kagen is reading her defense. justices really only do with a forceful dissent and very passionate about their dissent. i'll read you briefly what justice kagen is reading. of all times to abandon the court's duty to declare the law, this was not the one. the practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government and part of the court's role is to defend its foundation. so the four liberal justices here, justice kagen, reading from the bench right now slamming this decision by chief justice roberts and the four other conservative justices to stay out of this but justice roberts in his opinion defending that decision saying this is not
the role of the courts to decide this and instead let this play out in the states that have already established commissions, in the state legislatures and perhaps even in congress. poppy? >> jessica schneider, thank you. it says a lot she's reading that dissent from the bench. we're going to take a quick break and we're waiting on the census decision.
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t-mobile will match your discount. welcome back. we're continuing to follow a major decision from the supreme court. the supreme court deciding a 5-4 decision that it will allow partisan gerrymandering to continue. more from chief justice john roberts who wrote the majority opinion here who said our conclusion does not condone excessive partisan gerrymandering. justice kagen reading her dissent from the bench saying gerrymandering, so many justices have emphasized before is anti-democratic in the most profound sense. americans this morning watching this and wondering, is there any
way of truly dealing with partisan gerrymandering now? what's your answer to them? >> chief justice roberts makes an interesting reference. he recognizes how terrible this all looks. he recognizes how unseemly it is the way politicians use gerrymandering to lock in the district, but he says, look, it's not the job of the courts and then he says something very interesting towards the end of his opinion. look, there's a lot of interesting proposals out there to deal with gerrymandering including independent commissions that have been adopted by some states that kind of take it away from the state legislatures, there's one like that in california. there's one like that in iowa. and he says, aren't these interesting proposals, but what's curious about that, and ron mentioned this earlier, in a different case earlier, when chief justice roberts was in the minority, he said those commissions were unconstitutional, that the state legislature had to do it itself.
so i don't know if chief justice roberts -- >> is that the arizona? >> yes, the arizona case. i don't know if he's changed his mind about those or if he simply is blowing smoke to try to distort the impact of this decision, but you know, those independent commissions are probably going to be, get a lot more support than they have now but it remains unclear whether they're constitutional as well. >> right. that could be another test that the court faces. yes, ron? >> i was saying, right. the logical response to the ruling is you'll see more efforts in states, i think up to 21 states that have taken redistricting away from the legislature to some degree and clearly, you'll see more efforts towards that effect but as i mentioned as jeff filled out a little bit, the chief justice in the past voted on the losing side of a 5-4 decision to invalidate exactly those kind of independent commissions. the fifth vote with the four democratic appointed justices was anthony kennedy, replaced by brett kavanaugh. it's not clear tin dependent commissions can survive another
legal challenge which may come from republicans and conservatives in some of these states and important to note how these two cases intersect because in the census case, the evidence from thomas, the deceased republican strategist files is that they want republicans, republicans want to juice the citiz use the citizenship data to change the way districts are drawn from all people, eligible south citizens of voting age, enormously compound the effect of moving diversification away to areas more prepont rattly white and republican. the census case could be, if they decide this census question, you'll see conservative states shift the way they redistrict and who they count. >> and elizabeth, to ron's point about how and what you said earlier, they are, you know,
related in that sense an we're waiting for the census decision to come down in a few moments but just talking about the impact here of justice kennedy no longer being on the court. remember in 2015, it was scalia, i believe, who wrote the majority decision there essentially saying that the court that a map challenging extreme gerrymandering, the question here, was not reviewable, but kennedy left the door open in 2014 and he wrote he would not foreclosure on all possibility of judicial relief if some limited and precise rationale were found, but that door has now been closed. i'm hearing we're getting a ruling on census. let me know when we can go to jessica on that. until we can, this is a seat change because kennedy is no longer on the court. elizabeth? >> right, exactly. and so you have, you know, this conservative majority being much starker in their decision than they would have, i think, if
kennedy were on the bench keeping the door open and the court knows how to make decisions when it comes to the law. as justice kagen said, it's the court's job to declare what the law is. they can deal with somewhat gray areas. i think chief roberts is playing too cute saying they can't weight in because there's no clear standard. we know the famous rule, you know it when you see it, it doesn't stop the court from saying it couldn't apply the law in those cases and a lot of really good data and evidence showing these are extraordinarily manipulated districts in ways that affect our constitutional democracy and one thing that ron said, when we get the census decision, is to keep in mind that all people, citizen or no, whether you can vote or not, to be counted for political representation under the constitution. when you're drawing those lines, everyone, children, non-citizens, whether you can vote or not, it's supposed to be represented by our leaders.
so what we're seeing here exactly as jeffrey and ron have said, is that this attempt by conservatives, generally the republican party to narrow that, to exclude communities of color and that's deeply problematic for what we hope is an inclusive american democracy. >> jeffrey toobin, the court has ruled on the census case. we'll find out what they have decided and how that division is among the justices in just a moment. this is the administration, the commerce secretary wilbur ross saying we have the right to add a question to the 2020 census that asks, are you a citizen or not and we're doing it to better comply with federal voting rights laws. critics say this is a veiled attempt to intimidate non-citizens and depress response from especially hispanic households and that has an impact on money and representation in congress, et cetera. how big is this? >> well, it's potentially very
big but also related to the gerrymandering question because particularly in the last couple of decades, republicans in particular have used the rules on gerrymandering, the rules on the census to try to limit the number of people of color who are counted, who have meaningful representation in congress and in state legislatures and in how federal money is divided. these cases are intimately bound up with each other and they are about locking in republican domination of government regardless of what the voters want. both of them are, you know, have that as the political, i wouldn't even call it a subtext, i'd call it the text of what's really going on in these cases and we know that the republicans won in the partisan gerrymandering case and we are
waiting to hear from justice jessica schneider what happened in the justice case. >> these can be very complex so we're taking our time. going through them. >> as well we should. >> you can look down and read it too. jeffrey, in the moments you have off here to give us your analysis, elizabeth, to you, people might not know but this question was on the census until 1950. so that's also a big part of what the court is, go ahead, ron? go ahead. >> it's never been asked to the whole country. i believe -- >> exactly. >> it's never been asked in the way that the administration wants to use it. it's unprecedented. >> go ahead, elizabeth, and explain that difference that ron is saying it has not been asked to the whole country in this way. >> yes, so there have been some questions asked in other inquiries that the census bureau puts out. the community surveys, but
there's never been this question specifically and, you know, especially when you're talking about the way in which the administration is supposed to make decisions by putting forth its actual reason, you know, that's the issue that's before the court here. we have an administrative procedures act which says that the court has to put forth its reasons for decision making, excuse me, the administration has to put forth the reasons for its decision making, and here, we have good evidence to say they're doing it to enforce the voting rights act. you've never needed this question to enforce the voting rights act. we've had certain administrations very pro-voting rights act who have not needed to put this on the census. my question is, what's the real reason and there's a lot of evidence to suggest the trump administration's reason is discriminatory and to help the republican party. >> ron brownstein, what is going to be fascinating here along with the key decision from the court is what they are going to do or what they do about what the aclu has presented, which
they call all of this additional evidence after oral arguments about this republican redistricting expert and the work that was done and the communication that person had with the trump administration before he died and the maryland case. >> right, because i mean, this is an administrative procedure case. they're accused of violating the administrative procedure act and the lower courts found a lot of evidence they did exactly that. the maryland case, as i understand it, raises a different objection of kind of overt racial bias in the adding of this question and there's no doubt, poppy, as you note, census experts themselves have predicted this will lead to a massive, a significant undercount, particularly of hispanics. i know the urban institute estimated a specific undercount of hispanics and african-americans in the census in 2020 for a variety of reasons including the addition of this citizenship question. this is something that has enormous consequences. the trump administration this
week asked the court at the last moment to not only rule in their favor on the administrative procedure but preempt the other potential litigation around racial bias and we'll see if they are willing to go that far in a request that came in, but the evidence that has come out about the intent of this question, both the partisan and the racial logic and motivation behind it is so powerful that a 5-4 party line decision on this, i think, will resonate as strongly as citizens united or shelby county which are the other two kind of landmark setting the rules of politics decisions in the john roberts're -- era. >> jeffrey toobin, to that point, you had in appeals court saying that the new evidence presented in this, in the maryland case, warranted re-examination of the case. a few hours after that, the solicitor general noel francisco shot back with a letter disputing that saying the court
has to make a decision, can't wait, can't punt to the fall, got to print this thing now. >> miss harlow, may i ask for a delay. i'm actually trying to read the opinion. >> okay, fine. yes. go. i mean that. i want you to be right. always best to be accurate and not fast, so let's take jeffrey off the screen. go ahead and read. elizabeth, let me go to you on that one. >> poppy, i think that's a great question. you know, look, this administration has been pushing and pushing the supreme court and for them to ask the court, this is a little bit wonky but for the solicitor general of the trump administration to ask the court to rule for them on an issue that has not been briefed before them is an extraordinarily hubristic act and we've seen from the trump administration over and over trump tweeting things that suggest he thinks he has the supreme court in his back pocket. i can't imagine chief justice roberts likes that very much and
so i think when we, you know, get into the meat of this census decision, we will have to see whether the court is stepping back and saying, you know, we're taking our heads out of the sand or if they're going to say, we're going to keep taking your word on these things, that if you look at real life, you know, you have to admit that there are, the evidence, again, so strong that the motivation for this question here was not to enforce the voting rights act. it was to try to exclude particularly hispanic americans, non-hispanic whites, and to, excuse me, to empower non-hispanic whites and also republican candidates. if you look at reality and i hope this supreme court does that, in addition to, of course, applying the constitution which says that all people should be counted in the census, this is going to be an incredibly important decision and at a certain point, the american
people are watching the court and they want them to be this non-political institution that applies the law but we're seeing a chipping away of that over and over from the justice kavanaugh hearings, which were troubling to many americans, to political rulings like citizens united and shelby county striking down key portions of the voting rights act. so this decision, americans are watching and it's going to be incredibly important. >> you're right, poppy. >> ron, go ahead, i have a follow-up for you. >> the largest context. it's impossible to divorce these decisions from the demographic context. the under 18 population majority kids of color by 2020. 2023 or so, the majority of high school graduates will be kids of color and 2030, the majority of the population under 13 will be non-white. and this is one of many decisions in which you have these five republican appointed justices who are nominated and confirmed by republicans who are
primarily representing the parts of america least touched by this demographic change that are making rulings that will constrain, i think, the potential to constrain the influence of that growing diverse america and shelby county was certainly that and the issue, the rulings on affirmative action touched to that but nothing goes to that more directly than this census question which is really an attempt to define out of existence this changing america in a way that benefits republicans and non-hispanic whites. this is about holding power, despite demographic change setting rules that minimizes the impact of that change. >> you bring up the important name. >> that's coming ahead. >> you bring up an important name i'm not sure the average american is fully briefed on, so let's just explain it to them as we wait carefully for this decision to be explained to us by our experts.
dr. thomas hefler was a republican redistricting expert. wrote a study in 2015 that said this redistricting would be advantageous to republicans and non-hispanics to use citizen voting age, as you bring up. many people didn't see these documents until he died. his daughter discovered them on thumb drives. they came to the attention of the aclu, elizabeth, which brought that issue to the high court, but until today, and we don't even know if the justices will do it today, the aclu has not responded to that issue and whether they'll consider that in this. hold that thought, jessica schneider, my colleague is outside of the supreme court. jessica, what did the justices decide on this question of can citizenship be added as a question to the 2020 census? >> reporter: the justices in this ruling saying, for right now, at least, the census bureau cannot go forward with putting this citizenship question on the
2020 census. that doesn't mean it won't happen eventually, but for right now, as we face up against this july 1st printing deadline, the supreme court is saying, hold on, we need more explanation from the commerce department about why they want this question added and we're going to send it back to the lower court. that's the southern district of new york, the federal court in manhattan. this is quite astonishing, really, because of this tight deadline we're under. today is june 27th and the census bureau needed to start printing these questions for the 2020 census by july 1st, within a matter of days. but the supreme court is saying here that it is within the commerce department's right to include a citizenship question under the enumeration clause of the constitution which is better known or otherwise known as the census clause which lays out how the census will be conducted. it is within their power to add this question, however, they need to adequately explain it and one of the key portions of
this opinion here says we cannot ignore the disconnect between the decision made and the explanation given. that really points to this question here as to whether or not there was improper political motivation in the lower courts. we heard testimony, we saw documents. it was unclear exactly how this decision to add this citizenship question was reached and then, of course, within the past few weeks, we've seen this other evidence be discovered and be presented at the lower courts. the supreme court that i've read so far doesn't exactly address that evidence, but it does raise some question here as to whether or not the commerce department, as to whether or not the secretary wilbur ross was being completely truthful as to why they added this question. so really, poppy, this could continue to play out throughout the next few days, weeks, throughout this summer. because this will go back to the court in the southern district
of new york where the judge there will hear evidence and important to know when the judge got the additional evidence from the aclu, the judge there said this is important evidence here but not going to step in here because the supreme court is considering this question. well, now this judge in new york has the green light from the supreme court to reopen this case, to explore this evidence and then we'll see how this plays out, if eventually this citizenship question is added but it will not be for now as we face that july 1st deadline. poppy. >> and will a decision be made by the time the 2020 census actually does finally have to be printed? jessica, before you go, do we know the count on this decision? was it a 5-4 decision and don't worry if we don't know yet. >> reporter: there were different counts. this is reversed in part to some of it, so still going through the exact, all those, so we'll get back to you on that one but it was written by chief justice
rober roberts. >> you broke it down so well. thank you, jump in when you have more. jeffrey toobin, question of motivation and honesty here. >> i've now read the opinion, which helps, or enough to understand what it is. basically, what the court has done, and it did this unanimously, is they said, back to the judge in the southern district of new york and that's a judge named jessie firman, recently appointed by president obama and basically said, look at this issue again. because the evidence is disturbing and not entirely clear and we don't really know the answer on the issue of political partisanship. but if you read all the -- if you look at the full context, it certainly looks like, to me, anyway, that the citizenship question at the end of the day is going to wind up on this questionnaire. if you look at what the more
conservative justices wrote and there are five of them on the court, it looks like the question is going to wind up on the surveys. it's also worth, everything is controversial in this case, including the deadline. because one version of the deadline is that it's july 1st, but another version of the deadline is that it's october. so it's not necessarily the case that judge fuhrman in new york needs to resolve this by next week. >> but jeffrey -- >> there's also another version of the facts here that says the census questionnaire could be resolved in october, not by july 1st. this is not a total victory for the administration, but it certainly, in reading these opinions, it suggests to me that the administration is probably going to win by the time the census goes out next year. >> well, but if it's the october deadline, let's say that deadline which would be the
latest one, jeffrey, you've got, this is the end of their term and they're not going to reconvene until the fall. if this came back up to the supreme court , where would the lower court decision? >> the supreme court might have to work in the summer? is there something unconstitutional about that? it's unbelievable we take it for granted that the supreme court is entitled to take the summer off. wouldn't it be nice for all of us? but in fact, the next thing that's going to happen is not at the supreme court but go back to judge fuhrman in new york and he's going to have to get briefs, hold some hearings probably and he's going to have to address these questions and then it will come up back to the supreme court and maybe, you know, the precious vacation for the justices will not be interfered with too much. >> maybe. elizabeth, to you, what's your read on this? do you have the same read as jeffrey does that this ultimately may mean that the
citizenship question maybe ends up there? >> yeah, i'm not so sure. i think that with the supreme court's decision here, the eyes of america are on this issue like they've never been before. and as the case goes back to the lower court, we're going to see additional evidence, clear evidence, evidence that frankly the american people will be paying more attention to because of the supreme court ruling today. and even before we go this new evidence from this deceased republican strategist that the citizen question was there to help the republican party and to empower white voters over voters of color, there was already disturbing evidence in the record that secretary ross was not acting in the reasons, for the reasons that he put forward to the court. he claimed first that the census officials are the ones who asked him to put the question on the questionnaire. they made clear that that was
not the case, in fact, it was coming from the administration to put the citizenship question on there. so there's already a lot of disturbing evidence out there and i think as even more comeles to the fore as the case goes back to judge fuhrman, who's done a spectacular job in this case, i think the pressure on the supreme court is going to be even greater and as we face some of the backlash from their muslim ban ruling, i think they will be extra sensitive here. >> ron brownstein, the final minute goes to you. >> this is just an enormously important decision. one that really gets to the question of how we deal with a changing america. and i think as everyone has said, there's going to be a lot more focus on it and i haven't read the decision but i assume it means the racial discrimination side of it can go forward as well out of maryland. so maybe both of these issues coming to the court, the five republican appointed justices indicated during the questions, inclined to let the administration do this but as
elizabeth said, the elizabeth is so strong and continuing to come out that it will be an even starker choice if they allow it, ultimately allow it. i would be surprised if the lower courts allow this question. it will probably be an issue of the supreme court overturning them if it gets on to the census this fall. >> thank you all very, very much. two incredibly consequential decisions from the supreme court. elizabeth, jeffrey toobin, and ron, and thank you all for joining me. we'll have live coverage from there. kate bolduan picks up our coverage right after this. ♪ ♪
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check it out! now you can schedule a callback or reschedule an appointment, even on nights and weekends. today's xfinity service. simple. easy. awesome. i'd rather not. this is cnn breaking news. >> hello, i'm kate bolduan. thank you so much for joining me. we have huge news out of the supreme court this morning. two major decisions being handed down just minutes ago. the justices in one, handing down the decision against the trump administration, at least for now. and it is complicated and important in the administration's effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. critics have long said that this effort with this effort, the administration has purely political motivations by attempting touc