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Chief Justice Roberts Switched Sides During Census Deliberations: Report

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Chief Justice John Roberts reportedly switched positions during the Supreme Court’s closely-held deliberations over the government’s bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census form.

The chief justice originally cast his vote with the Trump administration, but defected to the other side as the internal process progressed, unnamed sources told CNN.

Precisely when Roberts may have changed his vote, and his reasons for doing so, are unknown.

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The CNN report is broadly corroborated by two factors. First, the Court seemed ready to allow the citizenship question during oral arguments in April. The chief justice himself appeared friendly to the government’s position, at one point remarking that demographic questions are “quite common” on census forms.

Oral arguments offer a limited window in the Court’s thinking about a case. They are not dispositive, and attitudes can shift in private once arguments conclude. Nonetheless, the April proceedings were promising indeed for the Trump administration.

Second, the opinion itself seems to bear out CNN’s telling of events. In early sections of the decision the conservative justices joined, Roberts affirmed the government’s general power to ask about citizenship in the census. He rejected arguments that the Constitution and certain federal statutes bar the question.

It is not until the latter stages of the decision that Roberts, with the support of the four liberals, concluded that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s reasons for adding the citizenship question were contrived.

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Events that followed the April argument may have been damaging to Ross’s credibility at the high court. The plaintiffs in the census case, a coalition of Democratic states and civil rights groups, claimed to uncover evidence that administration officials conspired with a Republican redistricting guru to add a citizenship field on the census form as part of a long-term strategy to advantage “Republicans and non-Hispanic whites” during redistricting.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals authorized a federal judge in Maryland to explore allegations that the government added the question to explore evidence that the administration’s motives were partisan or discriminatory. That ruling prompting furious last-minute posturing before the Supreme Court on the eve of the census decision.

The Supreme Court’s public information office did not return a request for comment.

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5 comments

  1. Roberts has either been blackmailed, bought-and-paid-for, or his family has been threatened. Something’s just not quite right.

  2. I, too, have been surprised with some of Judge Roberts’ rulings….and disappointed. I also questioned his tie breaking vote on Obama Care….I, too, have said he switched sides

    But wait a second !!! When judges put on that black robe, they don’t have sides ! They are ‘stuck’ with Constitutional laws. Certainly they have personal opinions. The “freedom of speech” that you & I enjoy is set aside in decisions. Although “interptations” may well be influenced by their political party, it is a sworn duty to set them aside, personal feeling still creep in.

    IF we continue to elect a President and Senate that thinks like we do, the more judges that will

  3. If only we could vote Roberts out of his cushy bench.

  4. Justices are “SUPPOSED” to rule by constitutional; law and NOT legislate from the bench. The U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to carry out the census in “such manner as they shall by Law direct” (Article I, Section 2). The Founders of our fledgling nation had a bold and ambitious plan to empower the people over their new government. The plan was to count every person living in the newly created United States of America, and to use that count to determine representation in the Congress.ution calls for a census

    At the time of adoption the framers did not consider the possibility of “ILLEGALS” entering this country and did not provide verbiage addressing the issue Since LIEberals depend on the ILLEGAL vote to attain and hold power it is completely acceptable to ask residents if they are here legally!!!

  5. IF…and I emphasize the “if”…these reports are tru, then Justice Robers should resign and fun for a seat in Congress. For the Supreme Court…and any of its members…to be making decisions based on anything other that interpretation of the law is a violation of their oath of office. The job of the Supreme Court members is to protect and enforce the law, not protect the “image” of the court. It does seem that in at least two instances Roberts had based his vote on what would “protect” the court from criticism at the expense of evaluating and enforcing “Law.” And that is a vile act.

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