Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill announced Friday that he supports President Donald Trump’s request that the 2020 Census include a question about whether the respondent is or is not a U.S. citizen.
Merrill has submitted a letter outlining his support for the executive order or other legal remedies requested by Trump to require the inclusion of a U.S. citizenship question on the 2020 United States Census form.
Merrill said the question of citizenship ensures the U.S. Census Bureau gathers accurate information for use in determining the number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes delegated to the state of Alabama in the upcoming redistricting.
“It is devastating news. Alabama could lose a seat in Congress if non-U.S. citizens are calculated in the 2020 Census and in other parts of the nation,” Merrill said. “Alabama has a great deal at stake with the data produced by the 2020 Census if non-U.S. citizens are counted.”
The state of Alabama, through Attorney General Steve Marshall and Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, have filed a lawsuit in federal court demanding that non-citizens not be counted for purposes of reapportionment and redistricting.
“We don’t need to be giving benefits to people who are non-citizens over people who are citizens, period,” Merrill said. “There are two districts in Los Angeles County, California, that currently have less than 40 percent United States citizenship in population. That means there are two congressional districts in California that shouldn’t even exist.”
“When you start counting citizens, then you will have citizens represented in Congress,” Merrill added. “When you start counting everybody, even those people that may not be citizens, you’re giving advantage to people that allow illegals to come into their community. That is not a positive thing for anybody.”
The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it was dropping the citizenship question from the 2020 Census. The decision was made just days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the administration and stated that the question cannot be included.
Trump initially said he wanted to delay the census while his administration continued to push for the question to be included in the 2020 survey.
On Tuesday, a Justice Department lawyer said the decision was made to start printing the census form without the citizenship question being included.
“We can confirm that the decision has been made to print the 2020 Decennial Census questionnaire without a citizenship question and that the printer has been instructed to begin the printing process,” wrote DOJ attorney Kate Bailey on Tuesday.
The email was sent to civil rights groups, who were challenging the question.
Former President Barack Obama’s White House lawyer Daniel Jacobson made the email public on Twitter.
On Wednesday, Trump told reporters that the administration has not given up on including the citizenship question.
On Friday the Trump Administration released a statement expressing that they are exploring all options on how to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
“The Departments of Justice and Commerce have been asked to reevaluate all available options following the Supreme Court’s decision and whether the Supreme Court’s decision would allow for a new decision to include the citizenship question on the 2020 Decennial Census,” Justice Department lawyers wrote in a filing Friday.
The lack of a citizenship question would put into question the viability of Alabama’s lawsuit.
Without a citizenship question, it will be difficult for the Census Bureau to determine how many of the people counted are or are not citizens.
It is expected that Alabama will lose one of its seven Congressional Districts if undocumented immigrants are counted for purposes of reapportionment and redistricting. California and Texas will be the beneficiaries. They are expected to gain several new House districts and the corresponding electoral college votes in presidential elections after the 2020 election.
On June 5, Judge David Proctor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama held that the plaintiffs, the State of Alabama and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, have adequately alleged that they will be harmed by the inclusion of undocumented immigrants in the census.
“Alabama will continue to make its case that the Constitution and federal law require that each state’s share of federal political power in Congress be apportioned based on the number of people who are lawfully present in the United States and that illegal aliens must not be included in that calculation,” Marshall said.
Proctor denied the federal government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but there still has to be a ruling from the lower court. A ruling favorable to Marshall and Brooks would almost certainly be appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and whichever side lost the appeal would take it to the Supreme Court. All of that takes time. Meanwhile the printers will be churning out millions of Census forms with no citizenship question.
For there to be a citizenship question, the Supreme Court would likely have to overturn its ruling of last week.
To find in favor of Marshall, Brooks and the State of Alabama, that likely will have to happen. Then, the court would have to find in favor of the State of Alabama and order the government not to include non-citizens in congressional reapportionment. The Brooks and Marshall lawsuit still has to be heard in a lower federal court before it can be appealed by the losing side.
Merrill is a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones.
The 2020 Census will be coming on March and April.
Original reporting by the Hill’s Jacqueline Thomsen and The Washington Post contributed to this report.
U.S. Supreme Court rules Alabama can ban curbside voting
“The District Court’s modest injunction is a reasonable accommodation, given the short time before the election,” the three dissenting justices wrote.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, allowed Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill to ban curbside voting, staying a district court injunction that had allowed some counties to offer curbside voting in the Nov. 3 election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Supreme Court’s majority in its order declined to write an opinion, but Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor’s five-page dissent is included.
The lawsuit — filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program — was brought on behalf of several older Alabamians with underlying medical conditions.
“The District Court’s modest injunction is a reasonable accommodation, given the short time before the election,” the three dissenting justices wrote.
Sotomayor, who wrote the dissent, closed using the words of one of the plaintiffs in the case.
“Plaintiff Howard Porter Jr., a Black man in his seventies with asthma and Parkinson’s disease, told the District Court, ‘[So] many of my [ancestors] even died to vote. And while I don’t mind dying to vote, I think we’re past that – We’re past that time,’” Sotomayor wrote.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill on Wednesday applauded the Supreme Court’s decision.
“I am proud to report the U.S. Supreme Court has now blocked a lower court’s order allowing the fraudulent practice of curbside voting in the State of Alabama,” Merrill said in a statement. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked diligently with local election officials in all 67 counties to offer safe and secure voting methods – including through the in-person and mail-in processes. I am glad the Supreme Court has recognized our actions to expand absentee voting, while also maintaining the safeguards put into place by the state Legislature.”
“The fact that we have already shattered voter participation records with the election still being 13 days away is proof that our current voting options are easy, efficient, and accessible for all of Alabama’s voters,” Merrill continued. “Tonight’s ruling in favor of election integrity and security is once again a win for the people of Alabama.”
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, expressed frustration after the ruling in a tweet.
“Another devastating loss for voters and a blow for our team fighting to ensure safe voting for Black and disabled voters in Alabama. With no explanation, the SCOTUS allows Alabama to continue making it as hard as possible for COVID-vulnerable voters,” Ifill wrote.
Curbside voting is not explicitly banned by state law in Alabama, but Merrill has argued that because the practice is not addressed in the law, he believes it to be illegal.
A panel of federal appeals court judges on Oct. 13 reversed parts of U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon’s Sept. 30 order ruling regarding absentee voting in the upcoming Nov. 3 elections, but the judges let the previous ruling allowing curbside voting to stand.
In his Sept. 30 ruling, Kallon wrote that “the plaintiffs have proved that their fears are justified” and the voting provisions challenged in the lawsuit “unduly burden the fundamental Constitutional rights of Alabama’s most vulnerable voters and violate federal laws designed to protect America’s most marginalized citizens.”
Caren Short, SPLC’s senior staff attorney, in a statement said the Supreme Court’s decision has curtailed the voting rights of vulnerable Alabamians.
“Once again, the Supreme Court’s ‘shadow docket’ – where orders are issued without written explanation – has curtailed the voting rights of vulnerable citizens amidst a once-in-a-century public health crisis. After a two-week trial, a federal judge allowed counties in Alabama to implement curbside voting so that high-risk voters could avoid crowded polling locations,” Short said. “Tonight’s order prevents Alabama counties from even making that decision for themselves. Already common in states across the South and the country before 2020, curbside voting is a practice now encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It should be a no-brainer to implement everywhere during a pandemic; the Alabama Secretary of State unfortunately disagrees, as does the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Congressional candidate James Averhart endorsed by list of U.S. dignitaries, retired military leaders
The 1st Congressional District Democratic candidate has been endorsed by a list of retired U.S. dignitaries and retired military leaders, his campaign said Wednesday.
James Averhart, the Democratic candidate in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District and a retired U.S. Marine, has been endorsed by a list of retired U.S. dignitaries and retired military leaders, his campaign said Wednesday.
“James Averhart is an integral leader — a man of principles and a patriot. He is the best choice to represent District One on The Hill,” said Ambassador Theodore Britton, a World War II Veteran who was nominated by President Gerald Ford to serve as U.S. ambassador to the island nations of Barbados and Grenada.
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. General Walter E. Gaskin, who served as commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, said Averhart is experienced in matters of government and policy and understands the lay of the land in Washington D.C.
“He will be ready to hit the ground running to get things done for the district, and moreover, be that bridge to unite the parties in Congress as well as the nation,” Gaskin said in a statement.
“James Averhart is a strong dynamic leader who will get the job done. He is meticulous and a consummate professional that will advocate and work for all citizens of our district and Alabama,” said Ambassador J. Gary Cooper, a retired Marine Corps major general who was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to serve as assistant secretary of the Air Force, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as U.S. ambassador to Jamaica.
“At a time when it seems that the Republican leadership is in lockstep with a president, who considers those in service to our great nation to be ‘suckers’ and ‘losers,’ is antithetical to what this country needs. We have over 30,000 citizens hospitalized and over 211,000 deaths due to coronavirus, which could have been prevented with sound, methodical leadership. We have been disappointed by this President and the Republican leadership standing with him. It is time for substantive change in our Nation’s Capital,” Averhart said.
“The American citizenry deserves and expects more of its leadership. We should no longer settle for those who continue to promulgate untruths and spew divisive rhetoric. We deserve leadership who will extol the truth and hold in high regard a united nation,” Averhart said.
Avergart’s Republican opponent in the Nov. 3 election is Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl.
The following are a list of Averhart’s endorsements, according to his campaign:
Ambassador Theodore Britton
- Nominated by President Gerald Ford to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the island nations of Barbados and Grenada
- Served as the U.S. Special Representative to West Indian island nations of Antigua, Dominica, St. Christopher, Nevis, Anguilla, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia
Ambassador J. Gary Cooper
- Vietnam Veteran and Retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General
- Nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica.
- Nominated by President George H.W. Bush to serve as Asst Secretary of the Air Force, Manpower and Reserve Affairs.
Lieutenant General Ronald L. Bailey
- First African American to command the 1st • U.S. Marine Division
- Served as Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations, U.S. Marine Corps.
- Retired in 2017 following 41 years of service.
Lieutenant General Walter E. Gaskin
- Served as Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, NC Served as Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruiting Command, Quantico, Virginia
- Served as Chief of Staff, Naval Striking and Support Forces-Southern Europe
- Served as Deputy Commanding General, Fleet Marine Forces-Europe in Naples, Italy
Major General Cornell A. Wilson, Jr.
- Served as Director, Reserve Affairs Division, Manpower and Reserve Affairs – Headquarters, U.S. MArine Corps, Quantico, Virginia.
- Appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, NC, to the position of Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Lieutenant General Willie J. Williams
- Served as Director of the Marine Corp Staff
- Retired in 2013 after serving 39 years in the U.S. Marine Corp.
Brigadier General John R. Thomas
- Served as Director for Command, Control, Communications and Computers, U.S. Marine Corps.
- Served as Director and Chief Information Officer, U.S. Marine Corp.
Adia Winfrey reports from campaigns trail
“We need your help to spread the word and continue reaching out to voters to help Democrats up and down the ticket,” Winfrey said.
The Nov. 3 general election is in less than two weeks, and Democratic congressional candidate Adia Winfrey is reporting back from the campaign trail.
“They say a picture says a thousand words, so I wanted to share a few shots from the campaign trail with you,” Winfrey said in an email to supporters. “We still need your support as we get closer to November 3rd. A poll released yesterday showed Senator Doug Jones with a huge lead among early absentee voters! This lets us know that what Democrats are doing is working, and we’ve got to keep the pressure on. Every day is Election Day!”
“We need your help to spread the word and continue reaching out to voters to help Democrats up and down the ticket,” Winfrey continued. “Make sure you tell your family and friends to get to their local courthouse for in-person absentee voting on any weekday between now and October 29th. Many counties are also hosting Saturday voting on October 24th, so look out for that option as well! Check with seniors in your communities and churches to make sure they’re able to get out to vote safely in this important election.”
Winfrey is running in the 3rd Congressional District as the Democratic nominee. She is challenging incumbent Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, who is seeking a 10th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to NBC News, more than 35 million Americans have already voted early and absentee. This is already more early and absentee votes than were cast in the 2016 election.
The Alabama Democratic Party said in a statement, “We’re only two weeks out from Election Day! We are proud of everything we have accomplished so far. From rebuilding of party to successfully pressuring counties into offering Saturday voting, we have already made history this fall!”
“We are going to spend the rest of this week pressuring other counties to offer their voters this same opportunity,” the ADP continued. “But we need your help. We’ve reached out to over 3 million Democrats across Alabama. We have prioritized reaching out to voters who traditionally never hear from us. Now, it’s time to put our GOTV plan into action.”
Winfrey is a psychologist and native of Talladega. Winfrey has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wilberforce University and a doctorate of clinical psychology degree from the Wright State University School of Professional Psychology. She is the founder of the H.Y.P.E. (Healing Young People Through Empowerment) movement.
Election day is Nov. 3.
Coalition of attorneys general file opposition to Alabama attempt to ban curbside voting
The AGs argue that Alabama’s suggestion to the courts that curbside voting invites fraud is “unfounded.”
A coalition of 17 state attorneys general have filed an opposition to Alabama’s attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to ban curbside voting.
In a friend-of-the-court brief, led by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, the attorneys general argue to that curbside voting is safer for those at greatest risk from COVID-19, and that a ban on the practice would disproportionately impact the elderly, the disabled and Black Alabamians.
They also argue that Alabama’s suggestion to the courts that curbside voting invites fraud is “unfounded.”
“The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, established by President Trump following the 2016 election, ‘uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud,’” the brief states, adding that there is no evidence that curbside voting in the many states that allow it invites fraud.
“The practice is longstanding and widespread—as noted, more than half of states have historically offered curbside voting in some form,” the brief continues.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Oct. 13 said the state will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a federal appeals court ruling allowing curbside voting in the Nov. 3 election.
A panel of federal appeals court judges on Oct. 13 reversed parts of U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon’s Sept. 30 ordered ruling regarding absentee voting in the upcoming Nov. 3 elections, but the judges let the previous ruling allowing curbside voting to stand.
The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, was brought on behalf of several Alabamians with underlying medical conditions.
“Curbside voting is a longstanding, secure voting option that local jurisdictions have made available to protect the health of vulnerable voters, including elderly, disabled, and voters with underlying health issues,” Racine said in a statement. “Curbside voting minimizes the risk to persons who are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, and local jurisdictions should be able to offer this common-sense accommodation to voters. State Attorneys General will keep fighting to ensure that voters can safely make their voices heard at the ballot box this November.”
The brief filed by the coalition of state attorneys general comes as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Alabama has been ticking upward.
Racine is joined in the brief by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.