Ex-DOJ official explains why Trump’s latest Supreme Court defeat was a 'remarkable' loss for the president
Donald Trump (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Chief Justice John Roberts’ highly anticipated ruling in the Census case on Thursday left many questions unanswered. While the immediate effect was a loss for President Donald Trump — his administration is still barred from including a controversial question about citizenship on the Census — it wasn’t clear whether the Commerce Department will be able to find a workaround to Roberts’ narrow decision.


Essentially, Roberts said that question should be blocked because the reason the department gave for adding it was clearly false. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that he wanted to include the question to support enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, but Roberts said that the evidence shows this was certainly a pretext. Indeed, the record indicates that the administration hopes to suppress the numbers of minority residents who are counted in the Census to benefit white people and Republicans.

Many observers of the court feared that, while Roberts’ ruling created a speed bump for the administration, he left open the possibility that Ross could concoct a reason for the citizenship question that wasn’t so obviously pretextual and allow the question to remain on the survey. But speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Friday, former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal suggested this was wrong — Trump suffered a major loss.

“I don’t think this is a small win, I think this is an astounding win!” Katyal said. “The chief justice said that the Trump administration’s rationale was utterly pretextual, conjectural — made up! Contrived! That’s the word he used. That’s a remarkable thing coming from the Supreme Court of the United States, accusing a president and his administration of.”

He continued: “And I don’t think it’s just temporary. Because the Trump administration has come in and said that everything’s got to be printed by June 30. They, in fact, went and bypassed the court of appeals entirely — they went straight from Judge [Jesse] Furman to the Supreme Court because they said, ‘The sky is falling, we’ve got to print this stuff by June 30!’ And now, of course, Trump tweets yesterday, in absolute derogation of what his lawyers told the Supreme Court, ‘Oh no, we can wait, no big deal.’ I don’t think they’re going to be able to come up with a reason, and the whole thing looks just really fishy. And we know what the reason is that they’re doing this. Which is to suppress minorities, which is what the Census Bureau itself says.”

Watch the clip below: