The Atlantic

The Census Case Just Took an Even Stranger Twist

In the real world, the fact that the executive branch plans to offer “a new rationale” is proof it has been lying. In the legal world, however, this maneuver might yet succeed.
Source: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

There are many critiques of the Trump administration’s legal strategy in its quest to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census, but one cannot fault its chutzpah.

In a filing today, the Department of Justice told Judge George Hazel it might propose “a new rationale”—as yet unspecified—for asking about citizenship, and accordingly asked the federal judge to halt a case about whether the government acted with racial animus in trying to place the question on the census. Government lawyers further argued that since the status quo already bars the question under the old rationale, further litigation is unnecessary, though Hazel rejected the government’s request.

It’s the latest twist in a dizzying roller coaster of a case. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump

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