The Citizenship Question Could Tell Us Just How Hackish the Supreme Court Has Become

Fred Schilling, Supreme Court Curator's Office

Last Friday, President Trump suggested that he might sign an executive order putting a citizenship question on the 2020 census. I hope he does it.

Here’s why. First of all, it would almost certainly fail. It would be in court instantly along with a request for emergency appeal directly to the Supreme Court, which would be granted. The five justices who voted against the citizenship question originally would also vote to overturn the executive order and that would be the end of things.

But it would also give us a chance to learn something about the other four justices. Even though they originally voted to allow the citizenship question, they should agree that the Court ruled against it and the president is bound by its ruling. Even in what the justices might consider a righteous cause, presidents aren’t allowed to flout a Supreme Court ruling. That should produce a quick, unanimous opinion.

If it doesn’t, it will tell us something important about just how hackish the four conservatives are. And that in turn will tell us something important about whether and what we should do about it.


We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.