Mean Judges Won't Let Trump Ratf*ck Census, UNFAIR!
We've put it off long enough, Wonkers. It's time to discuss THE CENSUS LITIGATION. Bow-chicka-bow-bow! But first, let's watch the president of the United States attack the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on Twitter.
Literally none of this is true, of course. But leaving that aside, what kind of idiot attacks the judicial body which will be adjudicating his fate in short order? Answer: The Giantest Fucking Idiot that ever parked his Russian-owned keister in the Oval Office.
Trump is GRRRRR SO MAD because Chief Justice Roberts said,
We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. [...] The independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.
Who the hell does that guy think he is? Donald Trump will teach you to law good, Judge Hater!
Which brings us back to the 2020 Census litigation, which is already before the nation's highest court as we speak. In brief, Republicans want to add a question about citizenship because they know it will result in an undercount of minority residents. The Constitution requires an actual headcount, so only the wingiest of nuts is seriously arguing that non-citizens shouldn't be enumerated. But if fewer Latinos are willing to tell the government that there are non-citizens in their homes, then fewer congressional districts will be allocated to places like California and Texas. And the dwindling population of rural Ohio can keep all those delicious electoral college seats that keep sending Republicans to the White House when they've lost the popular vote. Ain't America GRAND!
But this is the Trump administration, whose evil is eclipsed only by its monumental incompetence. So shit went sideways fast.
That's right Secretary Soup Cans of the Department of Commerce is running point on this one. They're really, REALLY not sending their best.
On March 26, Wilbur Ross announced that the citizenship question was being added to the Census. Smoky Eye Goebbels was immediately dispatched to lie that it had always been so, deliberately eliding the fact that questions about citizenship had only been part of the smaller American Community Survey, and it hasn't been asked of all households since 1950. A coalition of blue state AGs immediately sued, and Ross wound up before the House Ways and Means Committee in June, where he told the lawmakers that the question had been added at the behest of the Justice Department to comply with the Voting Rights Act. Which was CHUTZPAH, and also A LIE.
Secretary Ross recalls that [Steve] Bannon called Secretary Ross in the Spring of 2017 to ask Secretary Ross if he would be willing to speak to then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach about Secretary Kobach's ideas about a possible citizenship question on the decennial census.
So Ross reached out to Kobach as instructed for further marching orders.
Which is more or less what the Commerce Secretary did.
Even though every member of the Census Bureau staff was screaming at him that minority respondents were freaking out and refusing to answer, so that as many as 24 million US residents would be accidentally-on purpose missed if the citizenship question were added. Then he went to the Justice Department and told them to come up with some bullshit to justify it -- hell, say it's to protect minority voters, the lefties eat that shit up, right? (Probably.) And, oh yeah, the White House started talking about letting law enforcement officials use confidential response data to find criminals and undocumented immigrants. Subtle!
Meanwhile, in court, the DOJ has been fighting tooth and nail to get the Census case shut down. The Supreme Court blocked the plaintiffs from deposing Wilbur Ross pending a February hearing, but allowed document subpoenas and depositions of his deputies to proceed. And so US District Judge Jesse Furman has been sitting in a Manhattan courtroom listening to the government argue that adding the citizenship question in violation of longstanding Commerce Department procedure and despite vast evidence that it would make the Census less accurate is not an arbitrary and capricious act because ... reasons.
Like, maybe Wilbur Ross just always wanted to ask people where they were born, so he wasn't adding it to be racist.
Or maybe it's okay to make a stupid decision if you can find some justification for it afterwards.
And maybe Wilbur Ross isn't a liarfuckingliar, he's just, uh, building the record.
But before all that happened this morning, Solicitor General Noel Francisco (who used to have a sterling reputation and clearly no longer gives a damn) last night sent a letter to the Supreme Court begging them to prettyplease tell that mean Judge Furman that he can't tell them to eighty-six their racist census question.
In light of this Court's grant of the government's petition for a writ of certiorari, the government respectfully suggests that the Court may wish to reconsider staying further trial proceedings. A stay of further trial proceedings could "protect the very review [this Court] invite[d]" and has now granted. [Citations omitted.]
Why, no, we do not as a rule "respectfully suggest" in letters that SCOTUS stop a trial two weeks after it and the Second Circuit explicitly refused to do so, as Judge Furman noted at the outset of today's hearing.
But we don't generally have a president who attacks the Chief Justice on Twitter, either. Because shit is REALLY, REALLY crazy in 2018. Which you knew, but ... DAY-UMM!
Okay, Wonkers. Class dismissed!
Follow your FDF on Twitter!
You liking these lawsplainers? Please click here to fund 'em!
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.