Oh, yeah, this too

Trump’s latest: we don’t have to abide by a Supreme Court decision, especially one that calls our arguments “contrived”.   We’ll do the thing these so-called judges called illegal by executive order, or whatever Bill Barr manages to pull oubit of his capacious ass.   Barr promises to find a work around to overcome an adverse Supreme Court decision (even as he recused himself from the Jeffery Epstein federal sex trafficking case– but not because his father once hired Epstein to teach at the exclusive Dalton School).

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said the explanation offered by the Trump administration for adding the question “appears to have been contrived.” But he left open the possibility that it could provide an adequate answer.

Executive branch officials must “offer genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public,” the chief justice wrote. “Accepting contrived reasons would defeat the purpose of the enterprise. If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case.”    source

The Trump administration fast-tracked the case about asking a citizenship question on the 2020 census and got it heard by the 5-4 Supreme Court by its June 30 deadline.   The Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s argument that this question was necessary to somehow protect the Voting Rights Act (an act whose applications they otherwise oppose).   

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that executive branch officials ordinarily have broad discretion to make policy judgments. But he said the record in the case demonstrated that Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, had not given a full and accurate account of his decision to add the question.

In sworn testimony before Congress, Mr. Ross said he had decided to add the question “solely” in response to a Justice Department request in December 2017 for data to help it enforce the Voting Rights Act, or the V.R.A. Three federal trial judges have ruled that the evidence in the record demonstrated that Mr. Ross was not being truthful.

Chief Justice John Roberts declared that the Commerce Department provided a pretextual reason for wanting the citizenship question that was merely “a distraction,” in violation of the legal requirement that agencies disclose the true reasons behind their decisions.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the evidence in the case showed that “the V.R.A. played an insignificant role in the decision-making process.” Instead, the chief justice wrote, Mr. Ross had tried hard to find a rationale for adding the question.

“The secretary,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “was determined to reinstate a citizenship question from the time he entered office; instructed his staff to make it happen; waited while commerce officials explored whether another agency would request census-based citizenship data; subsequently contacted the attorney general himself to ask if D.O.J. would make the request; and adopted the Voting Rights Act rationale late in the process.”

“Altogether,” the chief justice wrote, “the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the secretary gave for his decision.”            source

None of this mattered to Boof Kavanaugh and his Federalist colleagues (all of whom voted to allow the citizenship question that will help to consolidate Republican power for the next decade), even though Trump didn’t give them anything to work with.   The Voting Rights Act argument was a transparent piece of toilet paper. [1]

Let’s not even touch the recent 5-4 majority’s stinking ruling on federal oversight of gerrymandering– according to the Federalists on the Supreme Court the corrupt practice of drawing tortured electoral maps to favor one party is, like the treatment of blacks or other despised minorities, strictly up to the local authorities to oversee.  Not a matter for the federal government to interfere in — states’ rights, you know.   Here’s the Grey Lady on that:

[The Supreme Court’s rulings on gerrymandering and the census have profound implications for American politics. Here’s what the decisions mean.]

It is well-known that asking the citizenship question on the census will cause various minority groups, already being rounded up by armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents  and deported or shipped off to concentration campsconcentration camps, not to answer the census at all.    This will result in lower population numbers in urban areas and, ultimately, fewer votes for these under-reported areas in Congress.  That’s because the census is used to apportion House seats.   Lower urban census tallies equals more power for non-urban populations.    More power for non-urban populations equals four more years of Trump, McConnell, Pence and their supremely well-funded malodorous ilk.

This open defiance of a Supreme Court ruling is, by the way, another argument for impeaching this vile orange piece of authoritarian shit.    

 

[1]  Here is a summary of the Federalist Society dissent (all five conservative justices are members, check it out), from the same NYT article:

In dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas said the majority had done something extraordinary. “For the first time ever,” he wrote, “the court invalidates an agency action solely because it questions the sincerity of the agency’s otherwise adequate rationale.”

Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh joined Justice Thomas’s partial dissent.

Justice Thomas said the courts should give executive branch officials the benefit of the doubt. “I do not deny,” he wrote, “that a judge predisposed to distrust the secretary or the administration could arrange those facts on a corkboard and — with a jar of pins and a spool of string — create an eye-catching conspiracy web.”

He said the consequences of the majority decision would be far-reaching. “Now that the court has opened up this avenue of attack,” he wrote, “opponents of executive actions have strong incentives to craft narratives that would derail them.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. filed his own partial dissent.

“To put the point bluntly,” he wrote, “the federal judiciary has no authority to stick its nose into the question whether it is good policy to include a citizenship question on the census or whether the reasons given by Secretary Ross for that decision were his only reasons or his real reasons.”               source

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