Happy Birthday America, Trump Got You This Constitutional Crisis
Yesterday afternoon, two Justice Department lawyers had to go before a federal judge in Maryland and admit that everything they'd agreed to just hours before had been rendered inoperative by a presidential tweet. As US District Court Judge George Hazel put it on an emergency conference call, "I don't know how many federal judges have Twitter accounts, but I happen to be one of them, and I follow the President, and so I saw a tweet that directly contradicted the position that Mr. Gardner had shared with me yesterday."
To which Joshua Gardner, a lawyer in the Civil Division replied, "The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the President's position on this issue, just like the plaintiffs and Your Honor. I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the President has tweeted. But, obviously, as you can imagine, I am doing my absolute best to figure out what's going on."
In a bid to avoid a hearing on the newly emerged evidence that the decision to add the question of citizenship to the Census was motivated entirely by racism, the Justice and Commerce departments explicitly promised that the 2020 Census forms would be printed without the citizenship question. But then Ol' Assmouth got on his Obamaphone and told the world that the lamestream media was lying, so now multiple federal agencies are desperately attempting to contort reality to conform with Trump's mania.
Judge Hazel agreed that he couldn't stop the old fool from tweeting, but he did wonder whether he might have to order the Commerce Department to publicly announce that the president is full of shit, if only to stop him from scaring immigrants out of truthfully filling out Census forms.
But then Joseph Hunt, another DOJ lawyer, piped up to say that the government has a great new plan and it is ... to throw themselves at Chief Justice Roberts's feet and pray that he bails them out. Or maybe Trump will be in such a good mood after his tank parade that he forgets all about this and they can all go home.
We at the Department of Justice have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward, consistent with the Supreme Court's decision, that would allow us to include the citizenship question on the Census. We think there may be a legally available path under the Supreme Court's decision. We're examining that, looking at near-term options to see whether that's viable and possible. And so to the extent we can identify an option for that to work, if we continue to examine the decision and believe that we have a viable path forward to that work, our current plan would be to file a motion in the Supreme Court to request instructions on remand to govern further proceedings in order to simplify and expedite the remaining litigation and provide clarity to the process going forward.
Well, it's a step up from Texas Congressman Chip Roy's legal theorizing.
But not a very big step. Because just last week the Supreme Court told Commerce that their lies about the citizenship question were too ridiculous. And they expedited that decision based on the government's repeated representations that the drop-dead date to finalize the census forms for printing was June 30.
But now the Justice Department is going to magically come up with more time and also a "new rationale" for Commerce's decision. And then the DOJ will just file a "Hey, Chief Justice Roberts, Tell Us What to Write Here, Please!" Motion, and it will all be cool? Is that what they're saying?
It seems to be what they're saying, since they sent this letter to Judge Jesse Furman of the Southern District of New York right after they got off the phone, 'splaining how they're just "performing the analysis requested, and, if they determine that the Supreme Court's decision does allow any path for including such a decision, DOJ may file a motion with the Supreme Court seeking further procedural guidance for expediting litigation on remand." AHEM.
There's no word on Judge Furman's response, but Judge Hazel was pissed, ordering the government to either stipulate in writing that the citizenship question is dead, or to agree to a highly expedited discovery schedule on how racist mapfucker Thomas Hofeller's plans to disappear Latinos from the Census wound up becoming government policy. And he wants one of those two things by 2 p.m. Friday.
MR. GARDNER: Your Honor, this is Mr. Gardner. The one thing I would request is, given that tomorrow is the Fourth of July and the difficulty in assembling people from all over the place, is it possible that we could do this on Monday?
JUDGE HAZEL: No.
MR. GARDNER: And again -- okay.
JUDGE HAZEL: No. Because timing is an issue. Timing is an issue, and we've lost a week at this point. And this isn't anything against anybody on this call. I've been told different things, and it's becoming increasingly frustrating. If you were Facebook and an attorney for Facebook told me one thing, and then I read a press release from Mark Zuckerberg telling me something else, I would be demanding that Mark Zuckerberg appear in court with you the next time because I would be saying I don't think you speak for your client anymore.
Then the California plaintiffs weighed in, requesting a conference call on Friday to give Justice Department lawyers yet another chance to get beaten about the head by a furious federal judge for going back on their promise to permanently drop the quest to ratfuck the Census.
DURR, the President can just order Wilbur Ross to have always had legitimate motivations, and that makes it kosher! And then he'll order it not to rain tonight in DC. Done and done!
Here on Planet Earth, Trump is unlikely to get a do-over from the Supreme Court in time to meet constitutional guidelines for the decennial Census. So now we're going to find out what happens when this president orders multiple Cabinet officials to defy a court order. Because Bill Barr has reportedly told Trump on multiple occasions that it's impossible to add the citizenship question, and yet lawyers from the Civil Division marched into court today and announced that they've been instructed to do just that.
Happy Birthday, America! Here's that constitutional crisis you've had your eye on. Hope it fits, because you can't return it.
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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.