‘A punch in the gut’: Federalist Society reportedly floored that Trump is giving up on census fight

(FILE PHOTO by Getty)

Not everybody on the right has responded positively to President Donald Trump’s fastball plan, announced Thursday, to bypass the Supreme Court and count the number of illegals in America by having all federal agencies submit their existing records on citizens and non-citizens to the Department of Commerce.

Despite the plan being praised by some conservatives for being “innovative,” it’s allegedly garnered intense criticism from the president’s allies among the 37-year-old Federalist Society.

According to sources who spoke with Axios’s Jonathan Swan, “top figures” at the Federalist Society, including executive vice president Leonard Leo, have disparaged both the plan and the long, tumultuous lead-up to it.

“Sources say Leonard Leo and other Federalist Society stalwarts were shocked and floored by how weak the decision was,” he claimed in a report Friday.

He repeated these claims during an appearance on MSNBC:

“What was the dance … all about if this was going to be the end result?” one figure reportedly said, referencing the long-drawn-out but formally concluded court battle over adding a citizenship question to the U.S. Census.

“A total waste of everyone’s time. … It’s certainly going to give people pause the next time one has to decide how far to stick one’s neck out.”

Another figure — a GOP strategist — reportedly described Trump’s plan as a “punch in the gut.”

It’s not clear what they’d been expecting. After the Supreme Court punted the case back to the lower courts, which for the record had already ruled against the Trump administration, few options were left. It seems as if these officials would have preferred for the president to continue fighting the battle in court. The problem though was that time was quickly running out.

Moreover, just this week another court ruled against the Trump administration by decreeing that it cannot replace its legal team. This was yet another stinging defeat.

With time and options running out, the president unveiled an executive order Thursday that called for essentially bypassing the judicial branch and approaching the problem from a better angle.

“I’m hereby ordering every department and agency in the federal government to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and non-citizens in our country,” he said during a presser Thursday afternoon in the Rose Garden.

“They must furnish all legally accessible records in their possession immediately. We will utilize these vast federal databases to gain a full, complete, and accurate count of the non-citizen population, including databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.”

“We have great knowledge in many of our agencies. We will leave no stone unturned. The Census Bureau projected that using previously available records, it could determine citizenship for 90 percent of our population or more.”

Listen:

Members of the Federalist Society nevertheless believe the president should have continued the battle. Why? According to an unnamed senior Trump administration official who spoke to Swan, it’s in part because they believe this is a battle he would have ultimately won.

“What’s sad is the President has been right on this since Day 1, but he’s being told it’s too hard and too long a road legally,” the official said. “Washington lawyers too often bow to the courts and treat them like a higher branch, when this is ripe for a fight, with American people in full support.”

He wasn’t wrong about the American people being in “support.”

A Harvard/Harris poll published earlier this month found that a 67 percent majority of Americans supported adding a citizenship question to the Census. Among that 67 percent was another 55 percent majority of Hispanics.

The latter finding was particularly notable because the left has repeatedly posited the false argument that Trump’s desire to add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census is rooted in his alleged racism against non-whites.

“This is about keeping — you know his hat — make America white again,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the top officials within the Democrat Party, reportedly claimed this week during a speaking event in San Francisco.

“They want to make sure that people, certain people, are counted. It’s really disgraceful. And it’s not what our founders had in mind,” Pelosi continued. “What they want to do is put a chilling effect so certain populations will not answer the form.”

This false allegation was then shared by the entire media — and without any fact-checking. This too might explain the president’s decision to just drop his original plan. Even though a majority of Americans supported it, there was little he could to stop Democrats and their media allies from falsely portraying both him and his plan as racist.

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Vivek Saxena

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