President Trump has announced that he’s “very seriously” considering an executive order in attempt to force a citizenship question onto the 2020 census, thanks to his absolute determination to abolish the separation of powers and turn the U.S. into the dictatorship of his dreams.
Trump reiterated the possibility of trying to wield his favorite presidential tool as he departed the White House for a weekend in New Jersey, telling reporters that “It’s one of the ways that we’re thinking about doing it, very seriously.”
Never mind that the the census is already in the process of being printed without the question, per the Supreme Court ruling that deemed adding the question “contrived.” We’ll just add it! Easy! From the New York Times:
“We’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said on Friday. “We could also add an addition on. So we could start the printing now and maybe do an addendum after we get a positive decision. So we’re working on a lot of things including an executive order.”
The matter seemed to be settled earlier this week, with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acknowledging the ruling and Justice Department officials saying they would move forward with printing the census without the question. But on Wednesday, Trump apparently became aware that he’d lost the battle, prompting him to tweet angrily that “We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.”
On its own, an executive order would not override court rulings blocking a citizenship question, though it could empower administration lawyers to try to persuade federal courts that the question should be included.
“Executive orders do not override decisions of the Supreme Court,” Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing plaintiffs in the census lawsuit in Maryland, said in a statement Friday.
As has been pointed out, the Constitution’s Census Clause explicitly states that Congress determines the conducting of the census, not the president. It also seems pretty clear that Trump doesn’t know why he wants a citizenship question anyway, telling a reporter:
“You need it for Congress for districting, you need it for appropriations, where are the funds going, how many people are there, are they citizens or not citizens? You need it for many reasons.”
Congressional districts are drawn on the total population, not the number of citizens. Did he misspeak, or does he just not know that? Please place your bets.