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I’ve been thinking further about the Chief Justice’s opinion in the Census case, Department of Commerce v. New York (full opinion here). I am concerned that his opinion may reflect a truly radical and dangerous idea, in a way that he may not have considered. Though frankly, this seems unlikely, as he is an extremely intelligent and experienced lawyer and judge.
I find the Chief’s reasoning very troubling, and his rationale was shared by none of the other eight Justices. The Chief thought that the substantive decision made by the Secretary of Commerce — to include a citizenship question on the census long form — was perfectly permissible as a general proposition. However, the Chief thought that the possibly bad motives of this particular Secretary made the decision impermissible.