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

Fred Schilling, Supreme Court Curator's Office

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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.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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