Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
So, imagine this: A rules-ignoring teenager who frequently lies tells his parents he wants to borrow the car. They ask why and he says, “to go to the library.”
When they tell him the library is closed, he says he still wants to borrow the car, he’ll give them another reason later, and the lie he first told them shouldn’t be considered in their decision-making process.
That’s pretty much what the Trump administration just did.
In the case of whether or not Trump can add a citizenship question onto the 2020 Census, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ reason for why the question needs to be included was not valid and therefore it could not be added.
The administration said it did not want to include the question for reasons of congressional redistricting – and yet on Saturday, President Trump told reporters that is his “number one” reason to have the question included.
At 2 PM Friday the administration told a federal court it may or may not come up with a new reason.
Calling the administration’s court filing “an act of political chutzpah,” elections law expert Rick Hasen perfectly encapsulates what just happened:
In a new filing, the Department of Justice has told the federal district court in Maryland considering whether the addition of the citizenship question on the census was done for reasons of racial animus that the government may still come forward with a reason for including the question. Further, the government argues that any new reason would have to be judged by its own terms, as the courts did in the travel ban case. It wants to stop all discovery of bad motives for the original decision as no longer relevant.
Hasen adds, “more importantly, DOJ is arguing for what Joshua Matz has termed “animus cleansing.” Forget if we had discriminatory racial intent before in adding a question, DOJ argues, because any new decision would be fresh and pure. And because of this purity, there’s no need to look whether the government had discriminatory intent to start with. Presto! Nothing to see here court, please move on.”
The real reason is because Thomas Hofeller, a GOP activist called the “father of gerrymandering,” now deceased, had written that including the question would help white Republicans, which is true.