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Confronting NPR Liberals, Congressman Mo Brooks Forcefully Defends Alabama Congressional Seats & Electoral College Votes

July 24, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC—  Thursday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) joined NPR’s left-wing “On Point” to argue that the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause & One Man/One Vote principles demand exclusion of illegal aliens from the Census count part that determines each state’s Congressional representation & Electoral College votes.

Congressman Brooks was interviewed by On Point’s Meghna Chakrabarti and double-teamed by NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Thomas Saenz.

Click the above image or HERE for full audio of Congressman Brooks’ interview


Full transcript of Congressman Brooks NPR interview follows:

Chakrabarti: So joining us now is Representative Mo Brooks. He is Republican representative for Alabama's 5th Congressional District, and he is a coplaintiff in this Alabama reapportionment case. Representative Brooks, welcome to the program.

Brooks: My pleasure.

Chakrabarti: So. So give us the argument here that you're laying out. Why should undocumented immigrants in Alabama not be counted towards the numbers needed to reapportion seats in Congress?

Brooks: Well, just to be clear, the United States code refers to them as aliens and their status as illegal so, technically, under the law, they're illegal aliens. But I understand how those that are on the left side tend to want to give them a nicer name, one that is different from what the law states that the proper name is. But having said that, this is the 14th Amendment. We've got an equal protection clause in the United States Constitution and the 14th Amendment. And that 14th Amendment amends all preceding parts of the United States Constitution. A sub part of the equal protection clause is what we call a one man, one vote principles, where everybody has an obligation, at all levels of government, to ensure that a citizen’s votes for different elected positions have equal weight. In this case, it's votes for the United States Congress and President of the United States. And if you include illegal aliens in the reapportionment count part of the United States Census, then what you are doing is violating the equal protection clause by giving some American citizens more power and influence over the election of congressmen and senators because they have fewer citizens in those districts in which they vote. And so if you believe the equal protection clause and one man, one vote principles of the United States Constitution and 14th Amendment, then you should not count illegal aliens in the part of the count that relates to the distribution of political power, i.e., how many congressmen each state has and how many Electoral College votes you have for the election of the President of the United States.

Chakrabarti: So first of all, to just the follow up question here, to your point about undocumented immigrants, and as you refer to them, illegal aliens. Well, neither nomenclature matters because the Constitution of the United States regarding the count that the census is supposed to undertake every 10 years simply says persons. It says persons. There is no designation to regarding their civil status in the United States. It says persons. So does that part of the Constitution not apply here? Is that what you're saying?

Brooks: When you're defining the word person, you also have to understand that there are exceptions to the word persons. By way of example, we're not going to count foreigners who are in the United States lawfully when they work at various embassies as part of the ambassadorial staff. That's just an example of one set of persons who are in the United States and they're in the United States legally, but they are not counted for the purposes of conducting the United States Census. So it's not 100 percent all human beings. There are exceptions to that, but you also have to take into account the weight and power of the 14th Amendment and which is going to trump here. Are we going to go with your rather expansive definition of the word persons? Which, by the way, historically has many different meanings. Or are we going to give weight and power to the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution and the one man, one vote principles on which our republic has been based ever since the Supreme Court intervened and said you have to start trying to equalize the influence of voters as they elect these different positions. By way of example, when I was in the state legislature, we had redistricting. When I was on the county commission, we had redistricting. As a member of the United States Congress, we had redistricting. And we had absolute mandates that we had to make those districts as even as possible from a population perspective, in order to ensure that no citizens vote was worth more than another citizens vote. And when you include illegal aliens in the count for the purposes of distributing political power, then what about states like California and Texas? Their votes in those states are worth far more than the votes in states such as Ohio or Colorado or West Virginia, Kentucky or Maine or Vermont, Alabama, Nebraska, South Carolina, Wisconsin, just go on down the list. And so if you're going to count illegal aliens in the census for the purpose of distributing political power, then you're quite clearly violating the 14th Amendment equal protection clause and the one man, one vote principles that have been the bedrock of our election system for many, many decades.

Chakrabarti: Right. So but of course, you mentioned California and Texas, two very interesting states here, because I think voters there might right now argue that given the way the apportionment works and the cap on the number of Congress people in the in the House, that their votes are actually worth a lot less right now.

Brooks: No that’s not true, because illegal aliens have been counted in the 2010 census for the purposes of distributing political power. So California, by way of example, probably has three or so more members of Congress than it should; same with Texas. In the case of California's, because they are an avowed, either in whole or in part, sanctuary state or with all of its cities that are sanctuary cities. They're encouraging this illegal conduct. That, in turn, is giving them more political power in the United States House of Representatives and for the election of the president of the United States. These abuse citizens of other states and that's wrong.

Chakrabarti: Mm hmm. Well, I mean, I guess the point I was trying to get to is regarding how that apportionment ultimately affects the Electoral College. But look, I take a slight take part of what you were saying earlier. I take your point, but there's one more thing I want to ask you, and then I'm going to bring out the guest back into this conversation. Representative, you said a little earlier that historically the definition of persons in the United States has changed. But it has changed because definitions thereof were to render people less than an entire person. I mean, as we know, three fifths of a person, that's what black Americans were in the eyes of this country.

Brooks: And it was a good change.

Chakrabarti: Right. Right. So right.

Brooks: It was an abomination. It's a shame we still look the other way with so much slavery that goes on around the world. I wish we'd be much more proactive, particularly when it comes to trade arrangements, when you've got slave labor. The United States of America should do much more than we are doing to minimize trade with those type of countries.

Saenz: Totally in agreement with you. Slavery is bad wherever it happens. But my point is, it sounds as if you're advocating for a definition of personhood that would not include them. So once again, it's reducing what we see as a whole person in this country,

Brooks: Someone who is here illegally should not be counted for the purposes of distribution of political power, if you're going to abide by the equal protection clause and the one man, one vote principles that underlie that clause. No citizen's vote should be worth more than another citizen’s vote in the election of the president of the United States or in the election of members United States Congress. That's going to be the battle we're going to have. I've heard the argument that you have made about the word persons. I hope you're hearing the argument that I have made about the equal protection clause and one man, one vote principles and some judge at some level is going to have to resolve the apparent conflict between the two. I hope that the equal protection clause and one man, one vote principles will prevail. But of course, there are others who don't want that outcome.

Chakrabarti: Mm hmm. Well, let me just turn back to our other guests here to get their views on this. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR reporter on the 2020 census, just your thoughts on the key, a little bit more about the case and what   Representative Brooks is saying.

Wang: I just want to point out that the residents criteria that the Census Bureau has put out published in the Federal Register does say that citizens of foreign countries are living in a states where members of the diplomatic community, they are counted at the embassy, consulate, United Nations facility or other residents where diplomats live. I also think it's important to point out that there is a long, long history of past lawsuits that have tried to get unauthorized immigrants excluded from the apportionment counter history that I've tracked back to the 80s that come from immigration restrictionist group known as the Federation for American Immigration Reform. They have filed lawsuits brought before the 1980 census. They filed again before that around the 1990 census. And those cases were dismissed in court and there is no form of rulings on the actual merits of those arguments. But there have been various lawmakers over the years who have tried to introduce bills, amendments and make similar calls. They have not gotten very far.

NPR: Well, ThomasSaenz, Representative Brooks is highlighting the 14th Amendment here, the Equal Protection Clause, and saying that's that by counting undocumented immigrants, it violates the equal protection rights of voting citizens. Your response to that

Saenz: Well, I think that Mr. Brooks is mischaracterizing his own case. This case, to be clear, is not about citizens and non-citizens. It's about the undocumented only. There are many non-citizens who are not undocumented. Lawful permanent residents: asylees, refugees. No one, neither the state of Alabama, nor Mr. Brooks, nor Donald Trump in his memorandum from Tuesday is attempting to discount non-citizens. They are attempting to have an estimate of the undocumented population, a subset of non-citizens backed out of the apportionment count. That's why this case has absolutely nothing to do with one person, one vote. Moreover, going back over 200 years, we have always counted those who are unable to vote, including those under 18, including the many, including half the population women who were not entitled to vote when the Constitution was put in place. But nonetheless, they were to be counted as among persons in each state in the apportionment clause. Moreover, I would point out that the 14th Amendment that Mr. Brooks keeps citing, in fact, is where the Supreme Court has determined on multiple occasions that the word person includes undocumented immigrants. Indeed, in the nineteen eighty-two case Plyler versus Doe, the Supreme Court concluded that persons with specific regard to the equal protection clause include individuals who are undocumented. So, there's absolutely nothing to support the contention being put forward in that case. I didn't want to add to that. The important piece of the case today in relation to Mr. Trump's memorandum is actually a cross claim filed by the interveners represented by MALDEF against the United States. In the main case, Alabama and Mr. Brooks are contending that the Constitution requires that you discount the undocumented and indeed to, in effect, put in place a zero fifths rule for the undocumented. But what the cross claim does, because we anticipated that the Trump administration would do exactly what happened on Tuesday. Last October, we filed a cross claim, which is like a separate lawsuit. It's called a cross claim because by one defendant. The intervenors against another defendant, The United States. And that cross claim contends that the administration may not voluntarily, on its own decide to discount the undocumented, even if Alabama were to fail in its suit, which is seeking to require that they be discounted. The administration could decide on its own to do it. We anticipated that, filed that cross claim in October of last year. That's already in litigation. It will prevent this unconstitutional memorandum from taking effect.

Chakrabarti: If your litigation is successful in this case, right?

Saenz: Yes.

Saenz: There will be other cases.

Chakrabarti: But you had, but to put the point of making you filed this cross claim many months ago, back in last October, as I heard you say. Now, Representative Brooks, I appreciate your patience here in hearing Thomas. You want to respond to him?

Brooks: Well, there are lots of things that I disagree with has been expressed by, you know, I'm outnumbered here, about two or three to one. But I'm used to that on NPR and a lot of other stations and communication tools. But I do appreciate you giving me the opportunity to respond. I respectfully disagree with your interpretations of legal interpretations that have been advanced. I'm an attorney. I don't know if the other gentlemen are. I suspect that the way they're presenting themselves, they probably are. But that's why we have this litigation in court. There are arguments on both sides. I hope that the federal courts will respect the equal protection clause and the one man, one vote principles and not give any one citizen in California 30, 40, 50 percent more power in the election of the president, in the states and of congressmen than, say, a citizen in the state of Ohio or the search state of Wisconsin or in the state of Alabama that I'm from. And if they do decide to give more power based on the conduct of illegal activity, well, that's unfortunate. And I think that's wrong. We'll abide by whatever the decision is. But by golly, we're going to fight it in court to try to do the right thing and to minimize the adverse effect of illegal conduct on who controls the government of the United States. Let me give you an idea of where they're really headed with all of this: you know, in San Francisco, anybody can vote. That means illegal aliens can register to vote in San Francisco. That means that lawful immigrants who are not American citizens can vote in San Francisco in their municipal elections. That means that we now have legally allowed, at least in San Francisco and some other communities where the folks that I'm speaking opposite of here, they want to allow foreign influence over control of American governments. And that's wrong. And I'm going to fight that. I represent American citizens of all stripes. It doesn’t make any difference what their race is, what their ethnicity is, what their religious values are. By golly, this is the United States of America, and we ought to allow American citizens to control our own government. And that's what I want to protect and preserve as much as I can.

Chakrabarti: Just to fact check something there. Hansi Lo Wang is a professional journalist.

Brooks: Well he presents himself well.

Chakrabarti: Well, well, because he's a professional and he has been following this story very closely and very professionally and Thomas Saenz is indeed a legal expert here.

Brooks: He also presents his argument well.

Chakrabarti: Well, good. We tried to, we try to we try to invite people who do just that so that we can get a deeper understanding of these complex issues. Representative Brooks, I have one last question for you, and I was going to let you go. But one last question, if I could.

Brooks: yes ma’am

Chakrabarti: You talked about preventing foreign influence in American elections. Do you bring the same passion to that fundamental, fundamentally important charge to, you know, foreign influence regarding social media, regarding Russia, regarding China?

Brooks: Absolutely. We should try to minimize that as much as possible. But let's also bear in mind what's good for the goose is good for the gander. The United States of America actively tries to influence the elections in other countries. We should not be surprised when other countries try to do the same thing to The United States of America. Alright.

Chakrabarti: Well, Representative Brooks, I'm afraid we've got to take a quick break here, but I appreciate you joining us today. Mo Brooks is a representative for Alabama's 5th.