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Westlake Legal Group > Citizenship

Report: John Roberts initially sided with Trump in the census citizenship question case — then changed his vote

Westlake Legal Group jr Report: John Roberts initially sided with Trump in the census citizenship question case — then changed his vote wilbur ross Trump The Blog roberts question liberal gerrymandering conservative CNN Citizenship census

It wouldn’t be the first time he’d — allegedly — joined with the conservatives in a case boiling with political repercussions only to think better of it and swing around to the liberal position. Everyone’s heard the stories by now about Roberts supposedly wimping out in the ObamaCare ruling seven years ago, initially agreeing with Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and then getting cold feet. Result: A tortured and dubious majority opinion upholding the constitutionality of the mandate as a tax. Rumors swirled within days of the decision that Roberts had switched his vote because he feared the Court would be attacked as a partisan institution if the five Republican appointees joined to kill Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

But Roberts pays attention to media coverage. As chief justice, he is keenly aware of his leadership role on the court, and he also is sensitive to how the court is perceived by the public.

There were countless news articles in May warning of damage to the court – and to Roberts’ reputation – if the court were to strike down the mandate. Leading politicians, including the president himself, had expressed confidence the mandate would be upheld.

Some even suggested that if Roberts struck down the mandate, it would prove he had been deceitful during his confirmation hearings, when he explained a philosophy of judicial restraint.

It was around this time that it also became clear to the conservative justices that Roberts was, as one put it, “wobbly,” the sources said.

No one outside the Court knows why or even whether Roberts switched his vote. But the perception of him ever since among righties is that, ironically, for all his concern about the Court being perceived as “politicized,” his alleged switcheroo is one of the most glaring examples of judicial politicization in American history. If Roberts is casting his votes based not on the merits of the parties’ arguments but on how he thinks partisan critics are likely to react then politics is guiding his deliberation. Not in a straight-line “Republican appointee must vote Republican” way but in a circuitous “Republican appointee occasionally must vote Democratic to preserve perceptions of institutional integrity” one.

Did it happen again in the controversial ruling earlier this summer about Trump’s power to include a citizenship question on the forthcoming census? That decision resembled the ObamaCare ruling in that both were written by Roberts and both began with arguments for the conservative position. The individual mandate is unconstitutional as a function of Congress’s Commerce Clause power, Roberts agreed in 2012; the president does have the power to add citizenship questions to the census, he conceded this past June. But, he went on to say in the ObamaCare decision, the mandate is valid as a tax. But, he went on to say in the census decision, the Commerce Department appears to have been deceptive in its reasons for wanting to add a citizenship question to the census. In both cases, it seemed as if Roberts was persuaded by the logic of the conservative view before conveniently finding an argument that allowed him to avoid joining in what would have seemed like a highly partisan decision.

And now here comes CNN citing sources familiar with the Court’s deliberations for the claim that Roberts switched his vote in that case too:

Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote against President Donald Trump’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, but only after changing his position behind the scenes, sources familiar with the private Supreme Court deliberations tell CNN.

The case was fraught with political consequences. Democrats and civil rights advocates claimed the query would discourage responses to the decennial questionnaire from new immigrants and minorities and affect the balance of power nationwide…

After the justices heard arguments in late April, Roberts was ready to rule for Ross and the administration. But sometime in the weeks that followed, sources said, Roberts began to waver. He began to believe that Ross’ rationale for the citizenship question had been invented, and that, despite the deference he would normally give an executive branch official, Ross’ claim had to matter in the court’s final judgment, which Roberts announced on June 27.

“John Roberts is the Supreme Court’s James Comey,” said a Twitter pal. Is he? In extraordinary circumstances, both men seem to be willing to dispense with institutional protocol and pull a Leeroy Jenkins in the name of some perceived greater moral/ethical/institutional good.

Right, right, we need to be fair. Caveat one: God only knows if the CNN report is true. No hard evidence exists of Roberts’s vote switch. It’s all coming from “sources” who might have axes to grind. Caveat two: A judge is entitled to change his mind. Just because Roberts switched his vote doesn’t mean he did it for political reasons, to dodge some political heat from liberals. Maybe the liberal wing of the Court lobbied him on their view and persuaded him. Caveat three: It’s not like Roberts has been a reliably anti-Trump vote on the Court. The Supremes have mostly tilted Trump’s way during his presidency. Literally yesterday Roberts sided with Trump on another hot-button political issue, whether the president has the power to summarily deny asylum claims filed by migrants who declined to seek asylum in Mexico while litigation is pending. He’s not David Souter.

But if you’re suspicious that Roberts’s supposed vote-switch in the census case had a political motive, there is a bit of extra evidence to consider. That decision was delivered on the same morning, the very last day of the term, as another closely watched political case, the one having to do with whether partisan gerrymanders can be challenged in court. Roberts wrote that one too and joined the conservatives for a 5-4 majority in ruling that gerrymanders can’t be litigated. The partisan implications weren’t perfectly clear in that one since Democrats have also engaged in partisan gerrymandering, but broadly speaking the left supported court challenges to gerrymanders and the right was more suspicious. Roberts knew the Court would take partisan flak for its decision; for him to join with conservatives again for another 5-4 majority in the census case posted on the same day would have made the partisan criticism many times louder. “The GOP appointees are in the tank!” liberals would have cried.

And so, insofar as Roberts may have felt pressure not to hand two major wins to righties in the same morning, the vote-switch in the census case seems that much more dubious. Did he decide to “split the baby,” handing the right a win on gerrymandering and the left a win on the census? Or did he really change his mind in the census ruling on the merits? Who would trust him after the reporting on his ObamaCare switcheroo?

The post Report: John Roberts initially sided with Trump in the census citizenship question case — then changed his vote appeared first on Hot Air.

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No, the U.S. hasn’t declared that children of military servicemen born abroad aren’t citizens

Westlake Legal Group r-2 No, the U.S. hasn’t declared that children of military servicemen born abroad aren’t citizens Women uscis Trump The Blog service military men malor lind immigration cuccinelli Citizenship children

A hair-raising sentence that caused a minor freakout on political Twitter this afternoon from the new citizenship guidelines issued by the feds today: “USCIS is updating its policy regarding children of U.S. government employees and U.S. armed forces members employed or stationed outside the United States to explain that they are not considered to be ‘residing in the United States’ for purposes of acquiring citizenship under INA 320.”

So … children of U.S. military servicemen and women born abroad are no longer citizens? For a guy who likes to remind people how much he loves the military, Trump doesn’t seem to love the military so much here!

But no, that’s not what the policy says. You can read the actual guidelines here but the USCIS fact sheet is clear enough. Note well:

Who This Policy Update Does Not Affect

This policy does not affect children born outside the United States who were citizens at birth or who have already acquired citizenship, including children who:

Were born to two U.S. citizen parents, at least one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions before the child’s birth;

Were born to married parents, one of whom is a U.S. citizen and one a foreign national, if the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. or one of its outlying possessions for at least five years, at least two of which were after they turned 14 years old;

How many children born abroad to servicemen and women are covered by those two categories? Ninety-five percent? More? None of them are touched by the new policy.

Today’s guidelines are a result of a bit of confusion between two different immigration statutes, says the USCIS in its explanation of the change. Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act explains how a child who was born abroad can automatically become an American citizen. Basically, if one parent is a U.S. citizen, the child is under 18, and the child is now residing in the U.S. with the parent, he/she gets citizenship. All he/she has to do is take the oath. Section 322 is for children born abroad who don’t fit that criteria, i.e. if the family is now residing outside the U.S. In that case the child doesn’t get automatic citizenship but can be naturalized as an American citizen. In the case of a service member, as long as they’re a U.S. citizen and were present in the U.S. for at least five years after they turned 14 — and if you’re deployed abroad on military orders, that counts as “present in the U.S.” — then they can file some extra paperwork and have their child naturalized.

Until today, military members could file under either 320 or 322, claiming that they were residing in the U.S. even while deployed abroad *or* claiming that they weren’t residing in the U.S. but were “physically present.” The new policy clarifies that, from now on, it’s only the second route that’s available to them until they’re residing back home again.

First, permitting a child to be eligible simultaneously for a Certificate of Citizenship under INA 320 and for naturalization under INA 322 conflicts with the language of INA 322(a), which states that a parent “may apply for naturalization on behalf of a child born outside of the United States who has not acquired citizenship automatically under INA 320.”

Second, considering children who are living outside of the United States to be “residing in the United States” conflicts with the definition of “residence” at INA 101(a)(33), which defines “residence” as a person’s “principal, actual dwelling place in fact.”

Third, considering these children to be “residing in the United States” is at odds with INA 322(d), which was enacted in 2008,16 4 years after USCIS issued policy guidance on the topic. When Congress enacted INA 322(d), it provided for special procedures in cases involving the naturalization of “a child of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who is authorized to accompany such member and reside abroad with the member pursuant to the member’s official orders, and is so accompanying and residing with the member.” Congress placed this provision under INA 322, which applies only to children “residing outside of the United States.” It did not provide similar language for such children to acquire citizenship under INA 320.

It boils down to this (if I’m understanding it correctly). Starting next month, a child born abroad to an American citizen in the military is no longer treated as though they’re residing in the U.S. If you want automatic citizenship for that child under 320, you need to wait until you come home and establish U.S. residency for the child here. Or, if you don’t want to wait until you’re back in the U.S., you can file paperwork under 322 that’ll make them a naturalized citizen even while they’re residing abroad. By forcing families who want to speed up the process to use 322 instead of 320, the feds are going to make servicemen to jump through more bureaucratic hoops and do more paperwork, which is a pain. But no one’s kid is being rendered ineligible for citizenship by the policy. They’re still fully entitled to it.

One question I have, though. If you go the 322 route, where does that leave your child with respect to his/her constitutional eligibility to be president as a “natural-born” citizen? Section 322 lays out the procedure for “naturalization on behalf of a child born outside of the United States who has not acquired citizenship automatically.” If the child is naturalized, by definition it’s not natural-born, right?

The post No, the U.S. hasn’t declared that children of military servicemen born abroad aren’t citizens appeared first on Hot Air.

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Ryan Shorthouse: How to boost integration

Ryan Shorthouse is the Founder and Director of Bright Blue, and co-author of Distant neighbours? Understanding and measuring social integration in England

Concern about a lack of social integration in the UK has been high for some time. In 2015, David Cameron even ordered a review into the state of social integration in the country. Published a year later, Dame Louise Casey’s Review into opportunity and integration concluded that successive governments have failed to ensure that social integration in the UK has kept up with the “unprecedented pace and scale of immigration”.

But what is social integration, and how can we strengthen it? That is the focus of Bright Blue’s latest report, published today.

We propose that neighbourhood trust should be at the heart of our understanding and measurement of social integration, since it is indicative of positive, meaningful and sustained interactions in a local area. Admittedly, neighbourhood trust is only capturing that between members of a community, not necessarily between people from different ethnic groups. In truth, then, neighbourhood trust would only be a good measure of social integration if that trust is high in an ethnically heterogeneous community.

Furthermore, since it is possible for people to trust their neighbours on the basis of them being in the same ethnic group, high levels of neighbourhood trust in ethnically diverse communities only indicate high levels of social integration when the local area is not residentially segregated. This is an important qualification that needs to be included when measuring levels of social integration.

We recommend that the Government, as well as local and combined authorities and public bodies, utilise this new measure of social integration. Specifically, the Government should produce a ten-yearly Social Integration Index, measuring levels of social integration across all different local authorities in the country. This Social Integration Index could consider incorporating other measures, such as levels of deprivation.

Bright Blue has had an initial attempt at this new Social Integration index, through independent statistical analysis the 2009-10 and 2010-11 Citizenship Survey, the 2011 Census and the 2015 Indices of Deprivation, as well as further analysis of the Index of Dissimilarity and the Index of Ethnic Diversity. Based on our proposed measure of social integration, we identified the four most socially integrated local authorities in England as those with relatively high levels of neighbourhood trust, relatively high levels of ethnic diversity and relatively low levels of residential segregation. These are the City of London; Cambridge; Richmond upon Thames, and Milton Keynes.

Our report proposes original policies to boost social integration in England. These are targeted at individuals, to better equip them to socially integrate, and institutions, to increase the opportunities for social integration. In particular, we focus on improving English language competence across all social groups, and reforming schools so they can support greater social mixing between young people.

First, on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course. Overall funding for them has fallen by 56 per cent from 2009-10 to 2016-17, which has been accompanied by a decline in participation from 179,000 to 114,000 people in the same time period.

The Controlling Migration Fund is a £100 million bidding fund launched in 2016 by the government to assist local authorities which are impacted the most by recent immigration to ease pressures on their services. Plans for the Controlling Migration Fund beyond 2020 are supposed to be considered during the next Spending Review.

Considering the importance of English language skills for social integration in this country, we recommend in our report that the Government continues the Controlling Migration Fund beyond 2020 and dedicates a minimum and significant proportion of it for funding ESOL projects. This will give local authorities who are under the most pressure a guaranteed resource with which they could provide ESOL courses to meet higher levels of demand.

Second, on National Citizen Service, which is a government-sponsored voluntary initiative for 15-17 year olds where they engage with a range of extracurricular activities that include outdoor team-building exercises, independent living and social action projects. The scheme currently operates both a four-week and a one-week version during school holidays.

National Citizen Service appears to improve some indicators of social integration in its participants, including increasing levels of trust in others and making it more likely to describe their local area as a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together.

We recommend that the UK Government trials delivering at least one week of NCS to all Year 9 or Year 10 students in all state secondary schools in England during term time. If the trial is successful, the Government should introduce a legal duty for all state secondary schools in England to provide at least one week of NCS to either all Year 9 or Year 10 pupils, depending on which cohort is found to be responding best to the scheme. The optimal length of time of the NCS during term time, ranging from one week to one month, should also be discovered through the trial and introduced during national rollout.

Finally, on school linking programmes. This involves bringing together classrooms of children from demographically diverse schools with the aim of increasing social contact between groups who would otherwise not meet. This can involve a range of collaborative activities, including exchanging work, joint drama, arts and sports sessions, and even community projects for older pupils. School linking can have a positive impact on many aspects of pupils’ skills, attitudes, perceptions and behaviours, including broadening the social groups with whom pupils interact.

The Pupil Premium is additional funding for state-funded primary and secondary schools designed to help disadvantaged pupils, such as those receiving free school meals and looked-after children, perform better. It is awarded for every eligible pupil in school and schools have significant freedom in how to spend it. Making part of this funding conditional on participating in a school linking scheme could incentivise participation in such programmes. As independent schools are not eligible to receive Pupil Premium payments, their participation in school linking programme must be incentivised through a separate mechanism. We recommend making the charitable status of such schools contingent on participation in a school linking programme.

There is no simple, straightforward solution to strengthen social integration. The limitations of public policy have to be recognised and respected, especially in regards to people being free to develop the relationships they want. And, crucially, social integration is a two-way street. It is not enough to say migrants and their children must do more to integrate; native Brits must also make an effort to welcome and involve newcomers.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

YouGov: 67% of Republicans say people who burn the flag should be stripped of citizenship

Westlake Legal Group yg YouGov: 67% of Republicans say people who burn the flag should be stripped of citizenship YouGov Trump The Blog republicans flag democrats Citizenship burning

Thankfully no one in a position of authority has endorsed this highly illiberal idea.

Oh. Right.

There’s less to this poll than meets the eye, I think. I hope?

Westlake Legal Group r YouGov: 67% of Republicans say people who burn the flag should be stripped of citizenship YouGov Trump The Blog republicans flag democrats Citizenship burning

I suspect most people who hear a question like that aren’t taking it at face value but are treating it as a proxy for whether flag-burning is broadly right or wrong. Would a good American burn the flag? Hell no, say Republicans! It’s our damned right to protest, counter Democrats! And that shakes out to the partisan mirror images we’re seeing here.

But it’s not that simple. A question that asked simply whether flag-burning is wrong would probably draw majorities of both parties. (Maybe?) A question that asked whether flag-burning should be punished with death wouldn’t approach majority levels on either side. (Again, I hope.) Tying it to citizenship is an in-between sanction that zeroes in on patriotism. How does a person who feels such contempt for America that he’d torch the flag rightly call himself an American? That’s what this question’s getting at. Few who answer are thinking through the implications of mainstreaming exile as a punishment for civic blasphemy. They’re treating it as a gut-check about whether someone who despises the country enough to burn Old Glory deserves the label of “American” as much as everyone else does.

Some righties who noticed the poll on Twitter this afternoon wondered how the results would have looked if YouGov had asked whether people who wave the Russian flag or celebrate Putin’s interference in the 2016 election should be deported. More Dems than Republicans would vote yes on that one, even though that result would also be obnoxious. Likewise, the idea of making “hate speech” a crime is perfectly mainstream in Europe and enjoys majority support among Democrats if you believe other YouGov polls. Asking about penalties for burning the American flag but not for desecrating other highly charged symbols more sacred to the left feels like YouGov’s way of gaming the poll to highlight illiberal tendencies on one side of the aisle only.

Exit question: Is it really that unlikely that a majority of Republicans would still support this idea after giving it some thought if Trump went all-in on championing it? Sixty-seven percent in favor seems unlikely, but what about 51 percent?

The post YouGov: 67% of Republicans say people who burn the flag should be stripped of citizenship appeared first on Hot Air.

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Breaking: Trump to give up on including citizenship question in census?

Westlake Legal Group t-2 Breaking: Trump to give up on including citizenship question in census? Trump The Blog survey Supreme Court redistricting question immigration illegal Citizenship census

Man, this is unexpected. As of a few hours ago, it looked like he was about to pull the trigger on executive action that would force the question onto the census whether the Supreme Court liked it or not. Then it would have been up to SCOTUS to either give in or try to stop him. If it gave in, it would be a huge blow to the Court’s prestige, an unhappy outcome for John Roberts.

But if it tried to stop him, we’d be facing a constitutional crisis.

The stars seemed to have aligned, then. Trump was set to show his fans that he fights! by issuing the order, on a day when he has hardcore Trumpers surrounding him for the White House’s social media summit. Now here comes ABC to say that the plan’s been scrapped. Trump’s going to let the census go out without the citizenship question and have the feds figure out another way to survey the public about citizenship.

President Donald Trump is expected to announce later Thursday he is backing down from his effort to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, and will instead take executive action that instructs the Commerce Department to survey the American public on the question through other means, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

The expected announcement will bring to a close weeks of escalating confusion within the government over his demands that the controversial question be included despite a Supreme Court order that had blocked the move. The White House declined to comment about what exactly the president plans to announce.

As recently as Thursday morning, administration officials had been repeatedly suggested the president would take executive action calling for the question be added to the census. It was not immediately clear when and why the final decision was made not to move forward with that plan.

When they say that Commerce will “survey the American public on the [citizenship] question through other means,” do they mean through an entirely separate survey? Or do they mean that Commerce will go ahead and print the census without the citizenship question but also print a supplemental page on citizenship to be included in the census if the court battle goes forward and Trump wins? That’s what Trump himself had suggested might happen, per Ed’s post this afternoon. A lot depends on the answer. It’s the census itself that matters for districting purposes; if the plan here is to exclude illegals from the count in order to shift legislative power away from immigrant-heavy blue districts then the citizenship question has to be in the census, not in a separate survey. I’m not sure what purpose the separate survey would serve except as an academic look into the size of the total illegal population.

Maybe the “separate survey” isn’t separate after all but just a supplement to the census itself. Or maybe Trump thinks the separate survey could be tacked onto the census retroactively with court approval. He’s going to speak at 3:45 ET and clear this up.

Assuming he really is planning to throw in the towel on adding citizenship to the census, why the sudden cave? I’ll give you three theories.

1. It’s just too late. The deadline for settling the citizenship issue and getting the census to the printers was supposedly June 30. Supposedly printing has already begun on a version without the citizenship question. Maybe Wilbur Ross huddled with his deputies and let Trump know that it’s not logistically feasible to change course at this point, especially with more litigation ahead.

2. The DOJ was set to revolt. POTUS’s lawyers at the Justice Department have made a giant mess of this matter because the administration can’t get its story straight about why they want the citizenship question included. Is it to enforce the Voting Rights Act? To locate illegals for deportation? To redistrict the House to exclude illegals from the count? It was such a hash that maybe the White House concluded the legal case was unwinnable at this point and that if Trump tried to include the question anyway the Supreme Court would shut him down and humiliate him.

3. Trump already won, sort of. If the idea is to exclude illegal immigrants from the count, it’s a cinch that some immigrants will be so nervous about answering the census after all the media attention to this matter that they’ll end up throwing it in the trash when they get it. That is, blue districts are destined to underreport precisely because the legal battle here will have convinced some not to take a risk by sending their census questionnaire in. Maybe Trump considered that enough of a victory that he could afford to let the dispute quietly drop.

He’s speaking in exactly one hour. Stay tuned.

The post Breaking: Trump to give up on including citizenship question in census? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump: Feel the power of my (nearly) fully operational EO on census citizenship question

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Can Donald Trump hack through the Gordian knot of two lawsuits over his attempts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census? It sure looks like Trump will give it a try. Earlier this morning, Trump announced a press conference on the subject as multiple news outlets reported that an executive order would be its centerpiece:

CNN’s White House sources say the EO will drop at the same time, but they’re being coy as to its contents so far:

President Donald Trump is expected to announce an executive action on the census Thursday, multiple White House officials said. …

Some type of direct action by Trump has been one of several avenues explored by the administration to place the question on the decennial population survey following the late June Supreme Court ruling. But any action by the President is likely to be challenged in court.

The Washington Post got an even more ambiguous read from its own administration sources:

White House officials did not immediately confirm Thursday morning that Trump would announce an executive order at the Rose Garden event — a move he has telegraphed for days.

The Supreme Court has called the administration’s rationale for the question “contrived” and said the government could not go forward without a solid justification.

Speaking to reporters at the White House last week, Trump said the question was needed “for many reasons.”

He raised the possibility that some kind of addendum could be printed separately after further litigation of the issue.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “We could start the printing now and maybe do an addendum after we get a positive decision. So we’re working on a lot of things, including an executive order.”

That prompts an obvious question: an EO to do what, exactly? It can’t be to order the inclusion of the question, because that’s the point being reviewed by the courts. The Supreme Court left Trump hanging by demanding a better justification for adding the question back into the census, but time had arguably run out for any changes before the printing needs to start. (Trump’s legal team had argued that July 1 was the drop-dead date for adding the question.)

The Post’s suggestion of printing a supplement might make some sense as an EO. The idea would be to get the regular printing done in a timely manner and have the supplemental form on hand if the courts give him a go-ahead. Would that require a formal EO, however? Probably not, but the formal EO would give Trump an opportunity to showcase his efforts and to rally public sentiment. The public is already behind Trump on the issue of identifying US citizens in the census, although one would hardly know it from the handwringing in the media over a question that once was rather routine in previous censuses.

It’s a smart move to hold a presser on this subject while the public remains on Trump’s side, especially after the setbacks in court this week. Trump will want to make sure everyone knows that he’s still fighting to get the question added, or more basically that he’s still fighting period. The EO itself is secondary, and it’s not likely to make a dramatic change to the course of the issue.

By the time of the 3:45 ET speech and presser, we will know more, of course. We’ll also get a sense of the outcome of the social-media summit and whether the White House will get embarrassed any further after yesterday’s pas de d’oh! with Ben Garrison. Set your Twitter follows and Facebook friending accordingly. In the meantime, be sure to read HA alum Bryan Preston’s argument as to why the question should be included in the census — and indeed was included every time until 2010. Here’s a brief excerpt:

The census is at the heart of representation in our republic. The Constitution explicitly connects the census to representation of citizens. Citizenship has been a routine part of the census for most of our national existence, and resuming capturing this data ought not be controversial. Objections to the citizenship question are speculative at best, disingenuous at worst. The citizenship question is only controversial because like nearly everything else in American life, some want to use the census to serve their own political power plays.

The post Trump: Feel the power of my (nearly) fully operational EO on census citizenship question appeared first on Hot Air.

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“Patently deficient”: Federal judge blocks DOJ lawyers from withdrawing from case involving census citizenship question

Westlake Legal Group dt-1 “Patently deficient”: Federal judge blocks DOJ lawyers from withdrawing from case involving census citizenship question withdraw Trump The Blog question Justice furman doj department counsel Citizenship census

How much of a mess has the White House made of this census dispute? So much that the Justice Department lawyers who’ve been handling the case for months are now trying to walk away from it en masse…

…and the courts won’t let them. It’s a federal judge who’s insisting for the moment that Trump’s A-team at the DOJ remain on the job, arguing his side.

At least until they give him a good reason why they shouldn’t. Can they? From today’s order denying the lawyers’ motion to withdraw:

Westlake Legal Group c-1 “Patently deficient”: Federal judge blocks DOJ lawyers from withdrawing from case involving census citizenship question withdraw Trump The Blog question Justice furman doj department counsel Citizenship census

Let’s back up. The DOJ initially convinced SCOTUS to take up the question of whether a citizenship question could be placed on the census in part by noting that time was of the essence. The census, supposedly, had to be at the printers by June 30. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and issued its verdict two weeks ago: Although the executive has power to add questions to the census, wrote John Roberts, it’s … pretty obvious that they’ve been lying about why they want the citizenship question added to it. The public needs clarity on that and the administration’s stated reasoning, that they need citizenship info to enforce the Voting Rights Act, simply isn’t supported by the evidence.

So the White House was thwarted unless and until it could provide a more credible explanation for wanting the citizenship question included — but since the deadline for printing the census was almost here, it seemed like there’d be no time to reconsider the matter. And so, inevitably, the DOJ announced on July 2 that the citizenship question would be dropped. Then Trump got to talking to his friends, who urged him to fight on, and he declared the next day — in a tweet — that the question wouldn’t be dropped after all, that the DOJ would fight on. And what about the June 30 deadline? Well, maybe the deadline wasn’t such a hard and fast deadline after all. Even though believing that it was helped convince SCOTUS to hear this appeal.

A federal judge in Maryland held a phone conference with the DOJ’s lawyers on July 3, after Trump’s tweet, to try to get a straight answer as to whether they were dropping the case or fighting on. The lawyers seemed as confused as the judge by the state of play:

Westlake Legal Group 1-1 “Patently deficient”: Federal judge blocks DOJ lawyers from withdrawing from case involving census citizenship question withdraw Trump The Blog question Justice furman doj department counsel Citizenship census   Westlake Legal Group 2-1 “Patently deficient”: Federal judge blocks DOJ lawyers from withdrawing from case involving census citizenship question withdraw Trump The Blog question Justice furman doj department counsel Citizenship census

All they had was a tweet. “This is a very fluid situation,” said Gardner later in the call, with no small amount of understatement. A source told the WSJ that “Nobody has any f***ing idea” what Trump wanted them to do.

Then came the next newsflash this past Sunday: The entire team of DOJ lawyers working on this case was planning to withdraw from it, a move which the NYT described as “all but unprecedented in legal battles.” Even stranger, the DOJ offered no explanation for the change. They didn’t offer one to the court either, per today’s order. You can’t just walk away without a good reason, said the judge, especially when you’ve spent months insisting that there’s a deadline here and time is of the essence in resolving the matter.

Why would the entire “federal programs” seek to drop the case like a hot potato? Maybe, said the Times, it’s because they feel the administration’s told so many lies — about its reasoning for wanting the question on the census, about the supposedly hard-and-fast deadline for the census, etc — that it’d be unethical for them to continue. That is, maybe they believe there’s no way to go forward here without either lying to the court or admitting that previous representations to the court were lies.

[The motion to withdraw] strongly suggested that the department’s career lawyers had decided to quit a case that at the least seemed to lack a legal basis, and at most left them defending statements that could well turn out to be untrue.

“There is no reason they would be taken off that case unless they saw what was coming down the road and said, ‘I won’t sign my name to that,’” Justin Levitt, a former senior official in the Justice Department under President Barack Obama, said on Sunday…

Lawyers who had been working on the case apparently concluded that they faced three problems. They had told the Supreme Court that they were up against a strict deadline of June 30 for printing the census forms, and there were difficulties in finding a new justification for the question that would not seem invented out of whole cloth. They may have also concluded that there was no way to move speedily enough to restore the question in any event, given that constitutional and statutory frameworks seem to require a lengthy administrative process before new questions may be added to the census.

If they objected to continuing on with the case due to ethical reasons, it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to state that in their motion to withdraw and risk embarrassing Trump and the department. But the federal judge who issued today’s order has called their bluff. Either they have to get back to work or they have to openly admit their ethical misgivings about what they’re being asked to do, which will be an unholy PR clusterfark for the White House and the DOJ. What are they going to do?

To give you a sense of just how messy this has gotten, read this story about the many times federal officials have contradicted their own stated reasoning for wanting to add the citizenship question to the census. Remember, it’s supposed to be about the Voting Rights Act, but figures like Ken Cuccinelli have admitted at times that the information might be used in immigration enforcement. And Trump himself admitted just a few days ago that it might be used for redistricting, perhaps to try to exclude illegals from the count in apportioning House districts. My takeaway from John Roberts’s opinion in the SCOTUS ruling was that he was straining for ways to give Trump the green light to do this but, as a matter of basic judicial integrity, couldn’t allow the administration to lie baldfaced to the Court about what its motives were. Now you have the president all but confessing that the Voting Rights Act rationale wasn’t the real reason for asking about citizenship on the census. If this case comes back to SCOTUS, Roberts may feel obliged to rule against Trump purely because it would embarrass the Court at this point to reward the administration with a win after lying so brazenly.

Trump may “win” anyway, though, if not in court than by making enough of a fuss about this that some illegals will refuse to answer the census questionnaire, leading to an undercount of the population in blue districts with large illegal populations. He might still win in court too, with POTUS reportedly considering an executive order to include the question on the census and begin printing. Again, though, that would operate as a sort of middle finger to SCOTUS, ignoring Roberts’s demand for a clearer rationale for including the question and ordering the government to proceed with it anyway on Trump’s say-so. If SCOTUS tries to stop him, then we’re in constitutional crisis territory. But first, we wait to see what the DOJ will do about today’s “get back to work” order.

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Citizenship question more popular than the media would lead you to believe

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Putting the citizenship question on the census is a Republican plot to steal the next election. It’s designed to suppress funding for low-income communities. It’s just racist. Take your pick of which of these typical headlines you like. To read most of the coverage in major newspapers or on the usual cable news shows, adding the citizenship question is an evil concept that all morally upright citizens should reject. But if that’s the case, why are so many people in favor of it? As it turns out, a majority of voters favor it and not even a third oppose it. (Washington Examiner)

Americans by a wide margin agree with President Trump that the upcoming 2020 census should ask a citizenship question.

The latest Economist/YouGov poll found that 53% feel it should ask the question versus 32% who don’t.

The survey asked: “Do you think the federal government should or should not ask people whether they are American citizens as part of the 2020 census?”

The Supreme Court has rejected including the question in a form the administration proposed but left the door open to another version. And Trump is considering changing the version.

The Yes/No/Not Sure count breaks down at 53/32/14. That’s really not even close, and even if all of the “unsure” voters swung to a negative answer they’d still be in the minority.

The Supreme Court rejected the question in its current form and also didn’t care for the reason it was being asked, but they did leave open the possibility of accepting it if it was restructured a bit and different reasoning was provided. As I noted previously, it seems a bit late for that now unless we really want to drive up the cost of printing and distributing the census forms, but the President may still take another run at it.

But that’s not the big issue here, at least as I’m reading the situation. Democrats are almost universal in very publicly opposing the addition of the citizenship question to the census and slamming the President and anyone who agrees with him over it. And yet again, they’re coming up on the wrong side of the issue when it comes to the feelings of the public. Every one of them who goes on record in this fashion is basically just feeding ammunition to the GOP for next year’s elections.

How many of these issues do they need to hang around their own necks before they go underwater? The public is solidly opposed to infanticide and late-term abortion. A clear majority are still opposed to gun bans. While voters do show significant support for some tenuous form of public health plans, they broadly oppose getting rid of private health insurance. Free health care for illegal immigrants is not at all popular.

The Democrats are building their 2020 platform out of a collection of planks that the public is rejecting. Pretty much the only thing they can agree on among themselves is that the Orange Man is Bad and needs to be removed. But in terms of policies, they appear to be driving themselves into a ditch. I find it remarkable that they’re doing as well as they are in recent polling because they’re pushing a lot of ideas that voters simply do not support.

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Census question case in Maryland moving ahead

Westlake Legal Group CensusForm Census question case in Maryland moving ahead The Blog SCOTUS question Citizenship census bureau census

I bet some of you thought this issue was already dead and buried, but it’s apparently not. Despite the Supreme Court kicking the challenge to having the citizenship question on all census forms next year back for clarification, the case challenging it in Maryland is moving forward. Had the White House abandoned the effort after the Supreme Court ruling, this case likely would have been abandoned. But since the President is still weighing several options to prevail, onward we go. The focus of this case, however, has less to do with whether we should include the question and more to do with why the administration wanted it added in the first place. (NPR)

A federal judge in Maryland is moving forward with a case that claims the Trump administration intended to discriminate against immigrant communities of color by adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

U.S. District Judge George Hazel ordered proceedings to continue after lawyers with the Justice Department confirmed in a court filing Friday that they are still exploring possible ways to add the question — “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” — to the census form. On Wednesday, President Trump indicated that he wants to find a way to do that would be acceptable to the Supreme Court…

Judge Hazel’s order means that as the Trump administration prolongs the legal fight to add a citizenship question, more evidence may be revealed in court about how and exactly why the administration tried to include a citizenship question on the census.

Just from the standpoint of pure logistics, it seems as if we’re beating a dead horse here. We’ve already missed the deadline to begin printing the forms and the order was sent over on Monday to start printing. (It now sounds as if that was delayed again, however.) It’s not that we can’t finish printing them on time with a late start, but every delay drives up the total cost. Of course, when you find a politician from either party who actually gives a hoot about the deficit, let me know.

The bizarre ruling from Chief Justice John Roberts leaves me wondering if there’s any use in batting this question around any longer. After all, the courts aren’t saying you can’t ask the citizenship question. They’re asking the administration to justify why they want the question asked, presumably thinking it would be fine as long as they come up with an acceptable answer.

Stranger still was the portion of the ruling that openly acknowledged the fact that the citizenship question has been asked of tens of millions of respondents on one form or another nearly every decade since before most of the people debating this issue were born. So has every previous census been invalid? Obviously not. This wouldn’t even be an issue if it wasn’t the Bad Orange Man making the request.

But just to be fair to the detractors, we’ve also run the census repeatedly where literally hundreds of millions of people weren’t asked the question and I haven’t noticed any impediments to enforcing the Voting Rights Act being discussed up until now. This would be good information to have and I supported the administration’s efforts to add it, but at the end of the day, we have to obey the Constitution and get on with taking the census. We’ve done this enough times by now that we know how long it takes to get all the forms printed and distributed on time. Sometimes you have to know when you’ve reached the point where it’s better to live to fight another day.

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Trump: We’re ‘absolutely moving forward’ on adding a citizenship question to the Census

Westlake Legal Group Census-letter Trump: We’re ‘absolutely moving forward’ on adding a citizenship question to the Census The Blog donald trump Citizenship census

Yesterday, there were reports at every major news outlet saying the same thing: The citizenship question would not appear on the 2020 Census. This morning, Trump said all of those reports were fake news:

The reports published yesterday were based on two things. First, a Department of Justice trial attorney named Kate Bailey sent an email to groups that were fighting the inclusion of the citizenship question in court. The email read, “We can confirm that the decision has been made to print the 2020 Decennial Census questionnaire without a citizenship question, and that the printer has been instructed to begin the printing process.” This is in writing and was sent to multiple people.

Secondly, yesterday the Secretary of Commerce confirmed that printing was moving forward without the question. From CNBC:

On Tuesday, Ross, in a statement had said, “I respect the Supreme Court but strongly disagree with its ruling regarding my decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.”

“The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question. My focus, and that of the Bureau and the entire Department is to conduct a complete and accurate census,” Ross said.

All of which seems pretty official and sounded pretty final. Even Nancy Pelosi got the message:

“Today’s decision is a welcome development for our democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at the time.

“House Democrats will be vigilant to ensure a full, fair and accurate Census.”

It’s not clear what happened here but it looks like the Trump administration is not done fighting this. Stories are beginning to trickle out about this but no one seems to know yet what this means practically. It probably means the printing of the Census forms will be delayed. I’ll update this story once the administration issues some sort of clarification about what the plan is going forward.

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