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In a blow to the Trump administration’s plans, Chief Justice of the United State John Roberts issued an opinion Thursday ruling against the Commerce Department’s plan to include a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 Census.

While the administration claimed that the question was designed to help the Justice Department enforce the Voting Rights Act, Roberts and a majority of the court found that this explanation was not supported by the evidence in the case, and the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to remand the decision back to the agency. Many observers argued this will likely prevent the department from adding the question in time for the upcoming Census (though there’s some debate about this), and President Donald Trump, in two rage-filled tweets sent from his Japan trip, said he wants to delay the process:

The problem? The timing of the Census is mandated in the Constitution — it must be taken every ten years. A president certainly cannot delay it for his own narrow reasons, “no matter how long.” It has to take place next year.

Legal experts quickly pointed this out:

And others noted that Trump’s new suggestion contradicted what his own administration’s lawyers had previously argued:

Perhaps most revealing of all is Trump’s clear rage. Does anyone actually believe that he’s this worked up about protecting the Voting Rights Act? He’s never shown any interest in protecting the law, and his party is devoted to undermining it. The purpose of the citizenship question is to discriminate against areas that have non-citizens and warp the Census in favor of Republicans and white people.

President Trump and former Defense Secretary James Mattis

Under ordinary circumstances, open dissent from high-ranking military officials against the actions of civilian political leaders would signal a danger familiar to other countries. Such rumblings from military circles often indicate that constitutional freedoms are in jeopardy and that martial law, or even a coup d'etat, may be on the horizon.

In these extraordinary circumstances, however, all expectations are reversed — and the usual order of things is turned upside down.

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