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COMMENTARY

Chief Justice John Roberts Isn’t Our Savior From Trump — He’s the President’s Chief Enabler

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When the Justice Department and the Commerce Department announced on Tuesday that the case was closed on the Census’ citizenship question and the query would be left off the 2020 survey, I was immediately confused. Though Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts had written a majority opinion for last week ruling that the Commerce Department’s fake justification for the question warranted blocking the agency from including it, he left an opening for the Trump administration to push forward with the effort as long as it provided another excuse.

And right on cue, President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that his administration wasn’t dropping the question after all, and the Justice Department announced that it is exploring paths to keep the query on the Census. Thursday morning, Axios reported that the president is considering an executive order directing the Commerce Department to include the question after all.

Some are arguing that this shows Trump is preparing to disobey the Supreme Court. Former federal prosecutor and legal analyst Joyce Vance said that by including the question, Trump could be committing an “unconstitutional” act.

But unfortunately, this does not appear to be the case. Roberts’ ruling was particularly narrow, and he appears to have given Trump plenty of room to wiggle out of it.

When Roberts affirmed a lower court’s decision to block the citizenship question and remand the issue back to the agency, he did so for one reason: its justification for the questions’ inclusion was obviously false. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had claimed that he included the question based on the Justice Department’s view that it needed the answer to enforce the Voting Rights Act. The public record contradicted these claims, and Robert concluded that the reason the administration provided “seems to have been contrived.”

Many hailed this as a bold move for the chief justice, essentially calling out the administration for lying. However, saying that the Trump administration is lying is no more praiseworthy that accurately describing the present weather. Of course the president and his officials are lying. It’s what they do. Not calling it out would be a derogation of duty.

And Roberts made it quite clear that it was only because the administration had been so brazen in its dishonesty that the Census question could be blocked:

Unlike a typical case in which an agency may have both stated and unstated reasons for a decision, here the VRA enforcement rationale—the sole stated reason—seems to have been contrived. The reasoned explanation requirement of administrative law is meant to ensure that agencies offer genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public. The explanation provided here was more of a distraction. In these unusual circumstances, the District Court was warranted in remanding to the agency.

This makes quite clear that Roberts is leaving Trump a loophole. It’s “typical,” he said, that an agency may conceal some of its reasons for taking a certain enforcement step. Since the VRA explanation was the sole reason given for the citizenship question, and yet it was “more of a distraction” than a believable claim, Roberts upheld the lower court’s ruling.

But this leaves open the possibility that the Trump administration could come up with another, non-fake reason for including the citizenship question, and that should suffice to allay Roberts’ doubts. It doesn’t matter if the administration has other, “unstated” reasons for including the question, because Roberts said this is “typical.” All it needs is a non-bogus justification in addition to whatever the true reason was that the question was initially proposed.

Perhaps it seems that, since the administration was obviously trying to hide its genuine reason to include the question — which was almost certainly to discriminate against Hispanic people and disadvantage Democrats — any additional justification that Trump officials might provide would also clearly be a pretext. But this isn’t so. To satisfy Roberts, the only thing Trump officials should have to do is imagine some possible benefit to including the citizenship question on the Census. It’s not clear the administration even has to actually think this supposed benefit is, in fact, a benefit — the explanation would only have to not be obviously false. That would remove the “unusual circumstances” that Roberts said merited blocking the citizenship question.

To be clear, I’m not defending Trump or Roberts. The question was clearly designed for discriminatory and illegitimate purposes. But as Joshua Matz argued at the law blog Take Care, Roberts seemed to dismiss many of the good reasons he might have endorsed for blocking the citizenship question:

The result is a Supreme Court opinion that eliminates nearly every constitutional, statutory, and regulatory objection that has been raised against the citizenship question, and that describes the decision to include this question as reasonable in light of empirical uncertainty about the best way to calculate the total number of citizens.

Ultimately, the Chief’s only complaint is that Ross offered a rationale for this decision that—to borrow a phrase from Scalia—taxes the credulity of the credulous…

At bottom, then, the Chief’s objection concerns only the shamelessness of the administration’s bad faith. Before he dirties his hands upholding Ross’s decision, he has required Ross to clean things up a bit, thus ensuring that the citizenship question enjoys a patina of legitimacy when he finally okays it.

The Justice Department, it seemed, did not initially agree with my or Matz’s assessment of the ruling, because it concluded that the citizenship question was dead. But Trump seems likely to be proven right in the end, and he will probably get his way.

One reason the Justice Department may have been inclined to throw in the towel is that its own credibility was on the line. It argued multiple times before the court that the administration had a hard June 30, 2019 deadline before it had to begin printing the Census forms in order to comply with the legally mandated deadline. Trying to find a new justification for including the citizenship question, and having that justification vetted by the courts, could extend well past that deadline. Trump, however, doesn’t put much stock in his administration’s credibility.

And while the court won’t be happy about having been lied to on this matter, it’s hard to see how this could make a difference in the final decision of including the question. The Trump administration could always say it previously believed June 30 to be a hard deadline, but it found an alternative route by, say, printing an addendum to the Census forms that includes the citizenship question.

If Trump goes through with these shenanigans, as he seems intent on doing, he will have made a mockery of the judiciary. But Roberts will have let him. The chief justice has made clear that he intends on giving the Trump administration an excessive amount of leeway, as the decision to allow the Muslim ban to stay in effect first demonstrated.

Undoubtedly, Roberts doesn’t seem to like Trump very much. Last December, he took the rare step of appearing to respond directly to some of Trump’s claims when the chief justice declared that there are no “Obama judges or Trump judges.”

And yet Roberts was elevated to the court for a purpose, and that purpose was the protection and promotion of the conservative movement. That means empowering the executive branch and letting Republican presidents get away with abusing their office. By directly lying to the court and the American people, the Trump administration went farther than even Roberts was willing to bear in this instance. Not so far, though, that Roberts wasn’t willing to let Trump have a do-over.

He’s willing, in other words to be Trump’s enabler, even if he doesn’t like him.

It’s possible Roberts will surprise me and block another attempt by Trump to include the question. I seriously doubt it, but Roberts does have the capacity to surprise. Nevertheless, the chief justice gave Trump the window in his latest ruling to push the envelope even further, to try to see what he could get away with. By writing a more decisive ruling, he could have stopped this nonsense with the citizenship question in its tracks. Instead, he allowed Trump to drag out the fight.

 

Image: Screenshot via YouTube

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COMMENTARY

Trump An ‘Enemy of the Constitution’ Declares Nicolle Wallace, Blasting Call to ‘Terminate’ Nation’s Founding Document

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MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace slammed Donald Trump as an “enemy of the Constitution” on Monday after the ex-president, over the weekend, called for the U.S. Constitution to be terminated.

Trump demanded “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” in light of his most recent – and false – claim the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

That was Saturday, on his Truth Social account.

On Monday, Trump denied having ever said it, despite the post still being up.

Wallace characterized Trump’s call to terminate the Constitution “an extraordinary statement even by the standards of a failed wannabe autocrat who plotted a coup against his own government and recently dined with white supremacists.”

READ MORE: ‘Venom’: Experts Shocked as Gorsuch Angrily Accuses Colorado of Forcing Anti-LGBTQ Baker Into ‘Re-Education Program’

“The disgraced ex-president made his contempt for our democracy as clear as ever, when he called for the United States Constitution to be ‘terminated.'”

Quoting The Washington Post, Wallace said: “Trump’s message on his Truth Social platform reiterated the baseless claims he has made since 2020, that the election was stolen, but he went further by suggesting that the country abandon one of its founding documents.”

She also played a clip of Republican Congressman Dave Joyce of Ohio from Sunday’s ABC News.

Rep. Joyce in the clip twists and turns but ultimately admits that if Trump is the GOP nominee for president in 2024 he will vote for him.

READ MORE: Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports

“Well, again, it’s early I think there’s gonna be a lot of people in the primary I think at the end of the day, you will have — wherever the Republicans tend to pick up I will fall in behind because that’s –”

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos interjected, asking,”Even if it’s Donald Trump, as he’s called for suspending the Constitution?”

“Again, I think it’s gonna be a big field. I don’t think Donald Trump’s gonna clear out the field like he did in 2016.”

“I will support whoever the Republican nominee is,” Joyce added.

“And I don’t don’t think that at this point he will be able to get there because I think there’s a lot of other good quality candidates out there.”

“He says a lot of things,” Joyce continued, refusing to denounce Trump.

“Let’s not speed past that moment,” Wallace urged. “This is exactly how Trump happened. All the Republicans in Washington and around the country said, [Trump] ‘says all sorts of stupid you know what. Dorsn’t mean he’s going to do it.'”

“He did all of it, all of it. And then some,” she chastised.

Watch below or at this link.

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COMMENTARY

Franklin Graham’s Ugly Lie Ahead of Senate Vote on Same-Sex Marriage Bill

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Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will put the Respect for Marriage Act on the Senate floor late Monday afternoon. It is expected to pass, thanks to about a dozen Republicans who are expected to vote to protect, at least at the federal level, the marriages of same-sex and interracial couples.

Franklin Graham, who unlike his famous father has devoted a great deal of his time to attacking LGBTQ Americans, posted an ugly lie on Facebook to stir up his base of 10 million followers.

The Respect for Marriage Act merely states the federal government is required to recognize any marriage that was legal in any state it was entered into. An amendment to the bill goes a long way in codifying the right to anti-LGBTQ discrimination by faith-based organizations, but LGBTQ activists see it as a win to protect marriages after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called for cases that would help him overturn several laws, including the right to intimate contact and the right to marriage for same-sex couples.

READ MORE: 37 Senators Just Voted Against a Bill Protecting Same-Sex and Interracial Marriages. All Were Republicans.

The bill also ensures states, even if they ban marriage equality, will recognize any legal marriage that happened before any possible ban or that happened in a state where same-sex marriage is legal.

“It is very disappointing that these 12 Republican senators would side with the Democrats and ultra-liberal Senator Chuck Schumer to put the vast majority of Americans who believe in and support marriage between a man and a woman in jeopardy,” Graham wrote in an obvious and ugly lie on Facebook over the weekend.

He then listed the Senators’ names, and add links to their contact information on their government websites.

Graham’s false claim that somehow anyone who believes in or supports marriage between a man and a woman would be put “in jeopardy” by this bill is a dangerous falsehood.

READ MORE: 35 States Still Have Same-Sex Marriage Bans on the Books – Dems Say Same-Sex Marriage Bill Has Enough Votes to Pass

Graham didn’t stop there.

“The deceptively-named Respect for Marriage Act that Senator Schumer is trying to push through is just a smokescreen to give more protections to same-sex marriage—and it doesn’t protect the religious liberties of those who support traditional marriage. In fact, it would make individuals, churches, academic institutions, and organizations who stand with marriage between a man and a woman in danger of persecution and legal attacks because of their convictions,” Graham added, which, again is false.

As NCRM has previously reported, all the religious protections that people of faith currently enjoy would be unchanged – if not strengthened – contrary to numerous false claims of far right extremists and religious extremists, like Graham.

The bill and its accompanying amendment do such a good job of protecting religious liberties that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church, has issued a statement supporting it.

READ MORE: Watch: Chasten Buttigieg Says Tucker Carlson Is Focusing on ‘Hate’ After Host’s Latest Anti-Gay Attack on His Husband

Despite decades of demonization by the right, same-sex marriage has become extremely popular, and not one of the false claims Graham and the religious right made before Obergefell has come true.

Same-sex marriage enjoys a favorability rating of 70% (per Gallup), and 61% of Americans say legalization of same-sex marriage is good for society (Pew).

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is the original sponsor of the bill, and Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, an original co-sponsor, is taking the lead for the Democrats.

A joint press release that also includes Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC), states an amendment to the bill, which Republicans fought for, ensures no religious rights will be impacted.

The amendment, their statement says, “Protects all religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution or Federal law, including but not limited to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and prevents this bill from being used to diminish or repeal any such protection.”

Why Graham is telling his flock something greatly different is par for the course.

“The bill strikes a blow at religious freedom for individuals and ministries and is really the ‘Destruction of Marriage Act,’” Graham said two weeks ago in an egregiously false statement.

“Its sponsors remarkably claim it protects religious freedom. It does not. This disastrous bill sends a message to America that if you don’t agree with the left’s definition of marriage, you are a bigot,” Graham added, again, falsely.

Should the Respect for Marriage Act pass it heads back to the House for a final vote, as the House’s version is slightly different. President Biden has promised to sign it into law.

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COMMENTARY

Watch: Chasten Buttigieg Says Tucker Carlson Is Focusing on ‘Hate’ After Host’s Latest Anti-Gay Attack on His Husband

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For years Tucker Carlson has been targeting U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. The Fox News host and “propagandist” has attacked Buttigieg, the youngest and arguably one of the most popular to hold that Cabinet position, for the high price of gas, inflation, complaints against airlines – including ticket prices and flight delays, speaking out in support of women’s reproductive rights, and for allegedly working “feverishly on the equity agenda.”

All that was in just one of Tucker Carlson’s opening monologues, back in June, during which he also pushed Russian propaganda against the United States for supporting Ukraine in Vladimir’ Putin’s illegal war against the sovereign nation.

The 53-year old TV host has been accused by some of being a purveyor of white supremacist rhetoric – or even a white supremacist. “Tucker Carlson’s monologues” were mentioned in the first sentence of a New York magazine piece titled, “White Christian Nationalism ‘Is a Fundamental Threat to Democracy.’”

So it’s no surprise that Carlson’s attacks against Buttigieg are more often than not homophobic, linked to the fact that Buttigieg is gay, out, married, and a father.

Carlson has infamously attacked Secretary Buttigieg for taking family leave after he and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, adopted twins. He said Sec. Buttigieg was trying “to figure out how to breastfeed,” and snarked, “No word on how that went.” The twins were born prematurely, and had medical issues, which the Buttigieges later revealed was RSV, and “the entire family — including Pete and Chasten — soon got it,” as The Advocate reported.

In response to Carlson’s bullying, Buttigieg praised the Biden administration for being “pro-family” by having a family leave policy for new parents. Carlson responded with sarcastic trolling, saying on Fox News, “It turns out that Buttigieg is not a dwarfish fraud whose utter mediocrity indicts the class that produced him. No, not at all.”

One year ago this month Carlson went after Sec. Buttigieg for his accurate claim that racism played a part in the design of some of the nation’s highways, including in New York.

READ MORE: Tucker Carlson Serves Up 12-Minute Long Homophobic Hate-Filled Rant Attacking Pete Buttigieg Over ‘Equity’

“I’m still surprised that some people were surprised when I pointed to the fact that if a highway was built for the purpose of dividing a white and a Black neighborhood, or if an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach—or it would have been—in New York, was designed too low for it to pass by, that that obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices,” Buttigieg told The Grio’s April Ryan, The Daily Beast reported. “I don’t think we have anything to lose by confronting that simple reality.”

Buttigieg is one of “the dumbest people in the world,” Carlson declared in response to the fact that there is racism built into our roads.

“Carlson said it’s ‘obvious’ that ‘roads can’t be racist’ but that the transportation secretary ‘didn’t know it,'” The Daily Beast added, pointing to a Washington Post explainer about “historical examples of institutionalized racism,” including roads.

In January, Carlson slammed Butigieg in yet another homophobic attack, calling him an “unqualified ‘kid’ who ‘breastfeeds,’ and has no business running the agency,” Mediaite reported.

“Joe Biden hired a kid,” Carlson claimed of Buttigieg, who was 38 when Biden became President, “who had never had a real job outside McKinsey and no grounding of any kind in physical reality,” a provable lie.

READ MORE: Watch: Pete Buttigieg Perfectly Slaps Aside Conservatives Criticizing His Paternity Leave

The Advocate noted, “in addition to working for McKinsey, a consulting firm, Buttigieg served two terms as mayor of South Bend, Ind., and spent seven years in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. He is a graduate of Harvard University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England.”

Carlson, who never served his country and reportedly failed his attempt to join the CIA, apparently has since learned that Buttigieg spent seven years serving in the U.S. Military, from 2009-2017. The Secretary was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Reserve, deployed to Afghanistan, served in a counterintelligence unit, and received ten military awards.

On Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, Carlson did serve up a dishonest, homophobic attack against Buttigieg, this time by going after his military service.

In a mocking, sarcastic slam Carlson accused Buttigieg of “hiding” his homosexuality while serving in America’s Armed Forces – something everyone knows was literally the law, under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

DADT was federal law, in effect from 1993 – 2011, in effect when Buttigieg enlisted. Buttigieg did come out during his military service, in 2015.

“After being deployed with the Navy to Afghanistan in 2014, he said he realized he could die having never been in love, and he resolved to change that. He finally came out in 2015, when he was 33,” The New York Times reported in 2019, during his presidential run.

Meanwhile, Carlson seemed to be unaware that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was the law of the land, claiming instead no one knows why Buttigieg refused to “admit” at the time he was gay – words that literally could have ended his military service.

“Pete Buttigieg, of course couldn’t pass pass up a moment like this,” referring to the mass shooting hate crime in Colorado Sprigs, Colorado last weekend during which five people were massacred at an LGBTQ nightclub during a drag event, something Carlson has repeatedly been railing against.

“It’s not like Pete Buttigieg just wants to talk about how things are going over at the Transportation Department, which he supposedly runs – short answer, not well,” Carlson claimed, serving up no proof of that.

“No, Pete Buttigieg wants to talk about identity. He always wants to talk about identity,” another provably false claim. “And the funny, ironic thing is that until just a few years ago, Buttigieg wouldn’t even admit that he was gay.”

“He hid that and then lied about it for reasons he has never been asked to explain – why not?” Carlson disingenuously asked.

READ MORE: Pete Buttigieg Brilliantly Destroys Tucker Carlson After Fox Host’s Homophobic Hit Job

“But whatever. Now he is happy to use his sexual orientation as a cudgel to bash you repeatedly in the face into submission,” Carlson continued, in what some might call an act of stochastic terrorism.

Carlson, who claimed he was a member of the “Dan White Society” in his college yearbook, this week on social media has been accused of engaging in stochastic terrorism after doubling down on his anti-LGBTQ attacks, even after the Colorado Springs Club Q mass shooting.

The Fox News host’s rant was not complete. On-screen Carlson had a tweet from Buttigieg, and read it in a mocking voice.

“Quote, here’s the latest. If you’re a politician or media figure who sets up the LGBTQ community to be hated and feared, not because any of us who ever harmed you but because you find it useful, then don’t you dare act surprised when this kind of violence follows. Don’t you dare act surprised,'” Carlson said mocking the Secretary.

“Don’t you dare,” he added. “Alright, fair enough. We won’t dare. But honestly, we were a little surprised to learn that the anti-trans shooter is himself trans,” Carlson claimed, falsely identifying the shooting suspect whose attorneys say they say they are non-binary.

“Were you surprised by that Pete Buttigieg? Now that you’re admitting you’re gay after lying about it? Since we’re talking about identity, what do you have to say about that? Well, nothing. Weirdly Pete Buttigieg hasn’t said anything, nor is he apologized for attacking other people on false pretenses.”

That too is a false claim, one the right often employs.

LGBTQ people can be anti-LGBTQ, homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic, and people can be racist against their own race.

Wednesday evening, in response to Carlson’s remarks, Chasten Buttigieg posted a photo of his husband in military uniform.

Friday morning on CNN, Chasten Buttigieg responded to Tucker Carlson’s latest attack against his husband.

“My husband served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell which meant that he would have been discharged from the American military had he come out of the closet,” he tells CNN host Don Lemon. “I know on the clip, Tucker Carlson goes on to talk about how it seems that my husband only wants to talk about identity rather than his job. And I would just love for him to follow Secretary Pete on Twitter. You can follow along with all of the things that are happening at the Department. But remember, this kind of rhetoric is easy. It’s so easy to attack people and to go on your talk show and fire people up about something that’s not actually happening.”

“I love my husband deeply, Chasten Buttigieg continued. “I know he’s a committed public servant. And he has everyone’s best interests at heart. I just think these people again with these megaphones, they have they have a big platform and rather than focusing on real issues, people’s lives, making them better, they’ve decided to focus on hate.”

Watch the videos above and below, or at this link.

 

 

 

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