William J. Barber II, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, called Republican and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott a “shame & a disgrace” for not opposing the inclusion of a controversial citizenship question on the 2020 census.
Scott was standing next to Attorney General William P. Barr during a press conference Monday when Barr explained that his office was exploring all available options, including an executive order, to get the citizenship question on the census form despite the Supreme Court blocking its inclusion last month.
“Sen Tim Scott, a descendent of slaves that America counted as 3/5 of a person, stood silently beside AG Barr as he said he thinks he has a way to put a citizenship questions on the census that would undercount people & under-appropriate representation. A shame & a disgrace,” Barber, a liberal political activist and MacArthur "genius" fellowship recipient, said Tuesday morning in a tweet that has since gone viral with some 30,000 likes and more than 9,000 shares.
The Supreme Court ruled last month that the 2020 national census can’t include a question about citizenship, which Democrats have criticized as an effort to reshape the results of the census — which affects the allocation of hundreds of billions of federal dollars each year — to benefit Republicans.
Barr, with the full support of President Donald Trump, insisted that there is a legal path to get the question on the 2020 census.
“The president is right on the legal grounds. I felt the Supreme Court decision was wrong, but it also made clear that the question was a perfectly legal question to ask, but the record had to be clarified,” Barr said in an interview cited by The New York Times.
The Supreme Court ruling suggested that if the Trump administration came up with a better rationale for adding the citizenship question, it could be added legally.
“It makes a lot of sense for the president to see if it’s possible that we could clarify the record in time to add the question,” Barr said.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, argued in a recent appearance on "Tucker Carlson Tonight” that Democrats oppose the presence of a citizenship question on the 2020 census because it will expose how many people in the U.S. are either non-citizens or here illegally.
"I think they are a little nervous about what the number may be," Jordan said on the show Tuesday. “You actually may find out how many people — maybe it's not 11 million, the number we hear all the time. Maybe it's a higher number of people who are here who aren't citizens or here in some illegal fashion."
Experts from The Census Bureau have argued that a citizenship question would discourage immigrants from participating in the survey and result in a less accurate census that would redistribute money and political power away from Democrat-led cities where immigrants tend to cluster.
While President Trump has expressed that he was thinking of including the citizenship question on the census via executive order, other experts say an executive order alone would not be enough to override court rulings.
“Executive orders do not override decisions of the Supreme Court,” Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told The Blade.