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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

A 2015 study conducted by now-deceased GOP gerrymandering strategist Thomas Hofeller concluded that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census would "clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats" and "advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites," according to new court documents filed Thursday.

Why it matters: Hofeller, who died last month, went on to help write a draft Justice Department letter that argued the question was essential to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the New York Times reports. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who set off a firestorm last year when he announced the addition of the citizenship question, has defended the decision to Congress for that same reason — suggesting Hofeller's work was more influential to the Trump administration than previously known.

The big picture: The Census Bureau itself told Ross that adding the question would make the Census less accurate, because some non-citizens will lie or refuse to fill out the survey. It would probably end up undercounting about 6.5 million people, the bureau said.

  • The documents, found on Hofeller's hard drive, were filed in a New York court on Thursday, just weeks before the Supreme Court is expected to rule whether the question is legal.
  • In Supreme Court arguments in April, the Trump administration dismissed claims that the Commerce Department had added the question for political reasons, arguing in favor of the benefits of having more accurate citizenship data, per the Times.

Separately, Justice Department official John Gore has refused to comply with a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee demanding testimony about the citizenship question, as well as internal DOJ communications. Wilbur Ross has also been subpoenaed, but is unlikely to comply.

The other side per a DOJ spokesperson:

"The plaintiffs’ eleventh-hour attempt to derail the Supreme Court’s resolution of this case has no merit. This baseless attack on the integrity of the Department and its employees is based on nothing more than fevered speculation and supposed 'new' evidence that, in reality, the plaintiffs have known for months. The study that plaintiffs recovered from the personal belongings of a deceased private citizen played no role in the Department of Justice’s letter recommending reinstatement of a citizenship question to the Census.” 

Go deeper: Wilbur Ross testifies that citizenship question isn't politically motivated

Go deeper

Updated 4 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

50 mins ago - Health

CDC director says COVID-19 messaging should have been clearer

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the messaging around the COVID-19 pandemic and changing guidance should have been clearer.

State of play: Walensky is being coached by media experts and is planning to have more press briefings by herself in order to ensure that CDC is seen as an independent, scientific entity, rather than as a political one, the Journal reports.

1 hour ago - World

UAE asks U.S. to reinstate Houthi terrorist designation after attack

Secretary of State Tony Blinken (left) listens to United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan during a joint news conference at the State Department iin October. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed asked Secretary of State Tony Blinken in a phone call Monday to re-designate the Houthi rebels in Yemen as a terrorist organization, a senior Emirati official told Axios.

Why it matters: Less than a month after he assumed office, President Biden rolled back the Trump administration’s decision to make the designation. He said it hampered humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people. Since then, the Houthis have escalated their attacks against Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region — including an attack Monday in Abu Dhabi.