As devastating as Trump’s capitulation on the census was to America’s citizens, the consequences of his decisions on other issues are far graver.
It wasn’t just the decision to drop the citizenship question that was the problem. It was the way the administration did it. After the president announced his decision to print census forms without the most important question, Attorney General William Barr took the lectern in the Rose Garden and added a gratuitous but far-reaching point.
“Some in the media have been suggesting — in the hysterical mode of the day — that the Administration has been planning to add the citizenship question to the census by executive fiat without regard for contrary court orders or what the Supreme Court might say. This has been based on rank speculation and nothing more. As should be obvious, that was never under consideration. We have always accepted that a new decision to add a citizenship question to the census would be subject to judicial review.”
This statement is likely the most dangerously fatal comment of Trump’s presidency. This is not just about the census. The lower courts are engaging in civil disobedience against long-standing and foundational laws, especially on immigration and sovereignty. As members of a separate branch of government who swear an oath to uphold the laws and the Constitution, the president and the attorney general have an obligation to properly adhere to the Constitution as much as the courts do, if not more.
This was after AG Barr said that even the Supreme Court has said such a census question is legal but questioned the method of decision-making. Barr made it clear that in withdrawing the question, the administration is bowing to the logistical problems of getting the remanded case through the courts again in time to conduct the census properly, not to a legal problem.
James Madison said, “The several departments being perfectly co-ordinate by the terms of their common commission, neither of them, it is evident, can pretend to an exclusive or superior right of settling the boundaries between their respective powers.”
Yet, in one fell swoop AG Barr has signaled to the Left and the legal profession that so long as they tie up any issue in several liberal courts, the administration will not assert separation of powers. We essentially have one branch of government.