By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) If you are a Cabinet official in a presidential administration, and you hear a majority of Supreme Court justices actually say that a regulation, rule, or policy you implemented was not unconstitutional, not against federal law, and well within your purview to issue, you would rightly assume that the high court was going to issue a ruling in your favor.
But then, you might not be taking into consideration two things: Chief Justice John Roberts and his disdain for the current occupant of the Oval Office, President Donald Trump.
Thanks to Roberts, who was appointed by an establishment ‘conservative’ president, George W. Bush, the Census Bureau will likely not be able to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census because…well, because.
On Thursday, Roberts voted with the liberals on the high court in a 5-4 ruling that did not claim the Commerce Department’s decision to include a citizenship question in the census next year was unconstitutional or that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross exceeded his authority when it decided to respond to another agency’s request to include it.
Rather, as Roberts wrote for the majority, Commerce just didn’t justify the reason for adding the question good enough. Or something like that.
“The Secretary’s decision to reinstate a citizenship question is amenable to review for compliance with those and other provisions of the Census Act, according to the general requirements of reasoned agency decision making,” Roberts wrote in his opinion. “At the heart of this suit is respondents’ claim that the Secretary abused his discretion in deciding to reinstate a citizenship question.
“Altogether, the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the Secretary gave for his decision. In the Secretary’s telling, Commerce was simply acting on a routine data request from another agency,” he continued.
Well, so what? That’s not the question before the court.
In fact, the purpose of federal courts and especially the Supreme Court is to determine whether an administrative act by the government is both legal and constitutional. And Ross’ decision clearly was, as the dissenters wrote in their separate opinion.
Re census citizenship q, what a dumbfounding opinion. SCOTUS says citizenship q is constitutional. SCOTUS says Sec Ross made a reasonable decision to include it, reasonably explained. Yet SCOTUS doesn't allow it bc it doesn't believe in stated rationale https://t.co/zxKNf9WEsN pic.twitter.com/PkRZkdNFag
— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) June 27, 2019
Justices Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch argue in their dissent the Supreme Court’s only role was to determine whether Commerce Secretary Ross was breaking the law by including a question about citizenship; and a majority on the court found he did not break the law in doing so.
“The Court’s erroneous decision in this case is bad enough, as it unjustifiably interferes with the 2020 census. But the implications of today’s decision are broader. With today’s decision, the Court has opened a Pandora’s box of pretext-based challenges in administrative law,” they wrote.
“In short, today’s decision is a departure from traditional principles of administrative law. Hopefully it comes to be understood as an aberration—a ticket good for this day and this train only,” they continued.
“Because the Secretary’s decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 census was legally sound and a reasoned exercise of his broad discretion, I respectfully dissent from Part V of the opinion of the Court,” they concluded.
Once again Roberts came to his conclusion — the one he believes is right for our country — first, then crafted a decision to support his preconceived conclusion…just like he did when he twisted logic, the law, and the English language to rule that Obamacare was a “tax” and within Congress’ authority (when it was no such thing — even Obama said so).
Because the census forms are set to be printed July 1, according to reports, there is virtually no way that this issue will be settled by a lower court in time for this decade’s census.
Roberts knows that. So it means even if the high court eventually does side with the administration on this, it’ll be another 10 years before the question can be asked — and obviously Roberts is betting that whoever is president for the 2030 Census won’t care or will oppose the question altogether.
A highly political ruling, then.
In November, Roberts pushed back against POTUS Donald Trump’s very accurate statement that “Obama judges” were improperly ruling that his Executive Branch immigration policies were not legal or constitution. The president implied very plainly that federal judges are essentially political appointees, and he was absolutely right (having appointed several himself by then, based purely on political ideology).
“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said in a statement released by the court’s public information office. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”
Yes, we do, Chief Justice Roberts. We always have.
And the longer you’re on the bench, the more you prove it with your decisions.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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