Among the hallmarks of Donald Trump’s presidency is his brazen disrespect for, and ignorance of, the Constitution of the United States. When he isn’t flagrantly misstating its meaning, he is fiercely striving to subvert its purpose. To him it is an inconvenient sheet of parchment that gets in the way of him doing whatever the heck he wants.
Case in point, Trump’s current dispute with the Supreme Court over whether to include a question about citizenship on the decennial census. The Court recently ruled against Trump on the matter, but he is refusing to let it rest. Never mind that the Constitution clearly states that the census is an enumeration of “persons,” not citizens.
At first, Trump’s own Justice and Commerce Departments acceded to the Court’s decision and stated that the Census would be printed without the citizenship question. But this must have angered Trump, or more likely his “Shadow Cabinet” on Fox News. Because Trump later tweeted that he was still seeking ways of going forward with the question despite the Supreme Court’s ruling. He even called his own cabinet secretaries fake news:
The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE! We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2019
On Friday morning Trump elaborated on this “quest” when a reporter asked him about it (video below). His response was a startling display of arrogance and ignorance. After babbling about his his many alleged options, Trump revealed his absurd justification for including a question that has been independently assessed to be discriminatory:
“I just spoke with the Attorney General. We have a number of different avenues. We could use all of them or just one. […] If you look at the history of our country, it’s almost always been asked.”
Let’s set aside the fact that Attorney General William Barr is once again acting as Trump’s personal lawyer, rather than the chief law enforcement official for the American people.
More to the point, Trump is arguing that because there was a citizenship question on the census in the past, there should be one now. But If you take Trump’s advice and look at the history of our country, what you’ll find is that African-Americans and women have almost always been prohibited from voting. So by the same ludicrous logic, it would be justifiable to restore those prohibitions. And that would literally prohibit most citizens from voting.
For the record, a citizenship question was not asked for most of the first fifty years the U.S. existed. Then it began to be asked just after the civil war, until around 1950. That’s curious timing, don’t you think? Thereafter it has been asked of only a small sample of the population. But now Trump wants to ask everybody. In his morning media scrum, he was also asked why the question was so important. And here he said aloud what his aides surely meant for him to keep secret:
“You need it for many reasons. Number one, you need it for Congress. You need it for Congress for districting. You need it for appropriations. Where are the funds going?”
So Trump is now calling his own Justice Department liars. Their original reason had something to do with needing the question to help enforce the Voting Rights Act. That, of course, makes no sense at all. And it’s one of the reasons they lost in the Supreme Court. Even worse, a few weeks ago Trump’s Solicitor General explicitly told the Supreme Court that redistricting was not the reason for the question. So much for that transparently dishonest excuse.
Worst of all, trump is now admitting that his reason for the question is to impact redistricting in a manner that would suppress the votes of a largely Democratic electorate, while helping Republicans to hang on to their white nationalist power base. What we have here is Trump getting caught in a complex web of lies in order to justify a partisan and racist policy that violates the Constitution. In other, business as usual in the Era of Trump.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.