Donald Trump just doesn’t know how to quit when he’s behind. He’s clearly lost the battle over whether the 2020 census will include a citizenship question. In fact he’s lost that battle so thoroughly, his own Department of Commerce announced this week that it’s over. But Trump can’t accept that, so he’s sent the DOJ to court to make last-ditch gibberish filings that aren’t getting him anywhere. Worse, Trump opened his mouth.
Donald Trump announced today that he wants the citizenship question included in the 2020 census, as a way of helping to draw up congressional districts. But as Peter Baker of the New York Times pointed out on Twitter, that’s not constitutionally allowable – and in fact the Supreme Court ruled against it as recently as 2016. In other words, whatever gibberish new rationale Trump’s DOJ was planning to use in court, Trump just went and made the whole thing worse by invoking a rationale that’s laughably invalid.
Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu, a former prosecutor, quoted Baker’s tweet and added his own legal analysis: “Pleased Donald Trump has made it even harder now to include the citizenship question on #Census2020. Drawing congressional districts based on “citizens,” rather than “persons,” is unconstitutional. Trump has now stated the real reason, and that reason is unconstitutional.”
Ted Lieu is right; Donald Trump blew it. This kind of confession from Trump is legally admissible in court, and it will in fact be used by the opposing side. Trump should have let go of the lost battle over the census and moved on to fighting some new battle. Instead he’s wasting his time doubling down on something he’s already lost.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report