How a Conservative Justice Killed Trump's Citizenship Question
The question remains, why?
Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst & Supreme Court biographer, reports:
For the most part, Roberts' opinion in the census case laid out why Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had significant latitude to add a new question. He was joined by his four conservative brethren on that point. But then the chief justice swerved, and joined by the four liberal justices, said Ross' justification for the citizenship question, tied to enforcing the Voting Rights Act, was contrived.
After the justices heard arguments in late April, Roberts was ready to rule for Ross and the administration. But sometime in the weeks that followed, sources said, Roberts began to waver. He began to believe that Ross' rationale for the citizenship question had been invented, and that, despite the deference he would normally give an executive branch official, Ross' claim had to matter in the court's final judgment, which Roberts announced on June 27.
Roberts' action in the case adds a new dimension to the question that has hung over Trump's presidency and is especially at the forefront as the justices begin a new annual session in October: Will America's highest court restrain the administration's most controversial policies?
On the whole, the 64-year-old Roberts has given the Trump administration great leeway. A year ago, he accepted its arguments and wrote the court's opinion upholding Trump's travel ban. And earlier this year, Roberts voted to allow the administration to ban transgender people from serving in the military and allow Trump to use military funds to build a border wall. On Wednesday night, he let drastic limits on Central Americans seeking asylum at the southern border take effect.