Friday, July 5, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He admitted he'd been lying about why he wanted a change in the census.

Today was the deadline for government lawyers to explain to a judge presiding over the census lawsuit whether they actually knew what legal argument Trump, as president, wanted to pursue. They didn't know on Wednesday, and they didn't know again today, in spite of working through the Fourth of July holiday to construct any remotely plausible legal justification for Trump's renewed efforts to get a citizenship question on the census. 

The Supreme Court ruled against Trump last week, but he tweeted today that he could get past that simply by issuing an executive order. (That's not how executive orders work.)

Asked about his refusal to abide by the Court's decision, Trump accidentally admitted that the main reason he wanted a citizenship question on the census was

for Congress, you need it for Congress for districting. You need it for appropriations. Where are the funds going? How many people are there? Are they citizens? Are they not citizens?

The Constitution requires that Congressional districts be drawn according to the total number of persons living in them, not citizens. In the recent Supreme Court case that the Trump administration lost, the plaintiffs argued that this unconstitutional justification was the real reason Trump wanted a citizenship question—and Justice Department attorneys insisted that it wasn't. By inadvertently telling the truth this time, Trump has all but ruined his chances in court.

Who cares?

  • It's wrong to lie.
  • Presidents don't get to ignore the judiciary just because they don't like how a case turned out.
  • Trying to rig the census is the same thing as trying to rig elections.