Concern Trolling: Which seemingly “nice” behaviour is actually a sign of manipulative/cunning behaviour?

“Ally! How are you doing since the breakup?”

“Oh! That was a while ago. I’m doing great!”

“Are you? I know these things take time to get over. And that’s okay. You don’t want to rush yourself.”

“Not at all. It was for the best.”

“OK. Because you know Danny is seeing someone else now.”

“Yes. He told me.”

“OK, because people are worried about you. I thought you deserved to know.”

“I know and I’m fine with it. I’m seeing someone also!”

“Wow, that was quick. Does he know you just got out of a relationship?”


“Do you want some caramel cheesecake?”

“No, thank you! I’m full and I’m trying to cut back on dessert.”

“Ice cream? Chocolate mousse?”

“Really, I can’t.”

“You can have dessert every now and then!”

“I’ve already eaten dessert this week. I have goals, so no.”

“Well, it looks like you’ve already lost weight.”

“Maybe two or three pounds.”

“You don’t want to get too thin and frail looking. Being underweight is unhealthy too. I’m a little worried about you.”

“I am in no danger of becoming underweight.”

“OK. Just don’t deprive yourself. It’s no fun being thin if you’re miserable.”


“You coming to happy hour?”

“Sorry, I can’t. Big deadline at work.”

“You can’t spend one night out?”

“Not right now. I don’t want to lose momentum.”

“You don’t want to become one of those people who ‘lives to work.’ I’m worried about you. Remember your company doesn’t care about you. If you died, they’d replace you tomorrow!”

“They pay me well, actually, and my name is on this product. So this is important for them and me.”

“OK. Well, you seem really tired. We just don’t want you to work yourself to death…”

“We?”

People are worried about you. It seems like all you do is work.”

“We just went out last week!”

“OK, just don’t let them take advantage of you.”


Concern trolling. When you’re failing at everything, the idea of your friend succeeding is unbearable. So try to destabilize her and make her second-guess her confidence.

Convince her that her situation is far worse than she believes and she’s the only one who doesn’t see it—and do it under the pretense that you’re protecting her best interests.

“Petty Tyrant” : This American Life

In Schenectady, New York, a school maintenance man named Steve Raucci works his way up the ranks for 30 years, until finally he’s in charge of the maintenance department. That’s when he starts messing with his employees. Teasing them at meetings. Punishing them with crummy work assignments. Or worse things, like secretly slashing their tires in the middle of the night.

Ten years after his arrest, Steve Raucci broke his silence and gave an interview to Paul Nelson at the Times Union in Albany.

2 Cocky Police Officers Get Shut Down When Trying To Create False Charges

well done. as usual they are there in minutes for something like this but when kids are being abused they are nowhere.

That was a mature, well constructed argument!

They just can’t help themselves can they, cops repeatedly try and impose some kind of authority over the general public for no reason even when no crime is being committed.

This is why in the end the police have lost the respect they had.many not all don’t know the laws they are employed to enforce

It’s this leap to anti-terrorism powers that really annoys me.
There are limits to Police powers for a reason, and invoking terrorism legislation to get round it is a massive abuse of power
. Pointing a camera at a prison is not suspicion enough for anti-terror laws to be invoked.

Nice, professional, succinct and respectful response to a couple of amateur fishermen. Well done, and by the way I really enjoy videos where only one person speaks at a time, you and M. did that very well in this interaction whilst backing each other. Tyrant came to mind when he brought up terrorism but that fell off the hook before he got a chance to cast it. You both soon left those two with no bait as they tried everything they had in their tackle box but never even got a bite.

You’d think by now the police on the ground would have received and understood the memo regarding citizens filming.

What does amaze me is the police can turn up in droves for minor things but when theres a Sarah Everard case happening in London they vanish ? ? ?

The camera scares the sh*t out of the bad police officers,one or both of them would have violently arrested you but for the camera,he was itching to do something.Well done on staying
calm and resectfull must be realy hard sometimes.

A police officer is REQUIRED to provide his name, if asked, when he is on duty. The 2nd Police man was breaking the law

I love it. When I was younger the police beat me up for asking an officer why he’d stopped me. Their response to my prefectly reasonable question was to attack me and shout “you never ask a policeman why”! We had to put up with that treatment in the past. Now we have cameras, which has forced their hand to also have body cameras and when people know their rights they are forced to back off. Excellent.

You find out at the end they don’t even know an offence has veen committed yet came to you at rhe start like they were sure it had!! What the heck

Very well done the fact you gave them your first name was respectful and the one pig couldn’t even return the respect

Unfortunately this is the way that policing is going. These two police officers didn’t know where to draw the line and to mention terrorism is an absolute joke. Would you feel safe knowing these two are here to protect us? I know I wouldn’t. Are they Labour supporters by any chance because the Labour Party have no idea when on camera. just ask Abbott and Rayner.

The Curious Death of Sandra Bland w/Malcolm Gladwell | Joe Rogan

Taken from JRE #1383 w/Malcolm Gladwell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Okg2L…
09:42
communication and he is this attitude
09:45
that he’s a cop and that you have to
09:48
listen to the cops because he’s them and
09:50
you’re you yeah and that that’s like
09:53
when he’s telling her to put the
09:55
cigarette out and she’s saying I don’t
09:57
have to do that and he’s saying get out
09:58
of your vehicle and she’s saying I don’t
10:00
have to do that and then he’s screaming
10:02
at her I mean that’s that’s all right
10:04
there yeah so it seems like to me he
10:05
wants compliance he won’t sir to listen
10:07
he does yeah he does what he gets it’s
10:10
funny the what’s remarkable about that
10:14
tape which I must have seen 50 times and
10:18
which has been viewed on YouTube you
10:20
know even a couple million times is how
10:22
quickly it escalates you know the whole
10:24
thing is it’s insanely short yeah you
10:28
you would think if I was telling you the
10:30
story of this you would think oh this
10:32
unfolds over 10 minutes and it doesn’t
10:35
it unfolds over a minute and a half and
10:39
that what I remember years ago I wrote
10:41
my second book blink and I have in that
10:44
book a chapter about a very famous
10:47
infamous police shooting in New York
10:49
case of amadou diallo I remember that I
10:51
remember that was shot like 40 times by
10:53
cops yeah and one of the big things I
10:55
was interested in talking about in that
10:59
case was how long does it take how long
11:02
did it take for that whole terrible
11:05
sequence to go
11:06
down so from the moment the police
11:08
develop it suspicions about amadou
11:12
diallo to the moment that amadou diallo
11:14
is lying dead on his front porch how
11:17
long how much time elapsed and the
11:19
answer is like two seconds
11:21
it’s boo boo boo it’s like and I had a
11:24
conversation with them actually here in
11:26
the valley with Gavin de Becker
11:30
has he ever been on your show no
11:32
fascinating guy was a security expert on
11:35
a security expert incredibly interesting
11:37
guy’s friends with Sam Harris I know
11:39
that yes yeah yeah and he was talking
11:43
about this question of time that when
11:46
you’re a security guard guarding someone
11:48
you know famous a lot of what you’re
11:50
trying to do is to inject time into the
11:53
scenario instead of you don’t want
11:56
something to unfold in a second and a
11:58
half where you have almost no time to
12:00
react properly and what you want to do
12:01
is to uh knit to unfold in five seconds
12:03
if you can an align this up I can’t
12:06
remember his exact term but basically
12:07
what your job is is to add seconds into
12:10
the the encounter so that you have a
12:13
chance to intelligently respond to
12:16
what’s going on and so he was hit this
12:18
great riff about um how good Israeli
12:23
secrets of Secret Service guys are and
12:26
one of the things they do is they’re
12:28
they’re they’re either not armed or they
12:31
don’t they’re trained not to go for
12:33
their weapons in these situations
12:35
because this point is so say you’re
12:37
guarding the president you’re a body man
12:40
for the president you walk into a crowd
12:42
somebody comes up to you like pulls a
12:45
gun wants to shoot the president
12:46
his point is if you’re the secret
12:48
security guy and your first instinct in
12:51
response to someone pulling a gun is to
12:53
go for your own gun you’ve lost a second
12:55
and a half right your hands got to go
12:58
down to here your whole focus is on
13:00
getting to your own gun and in the
13:01
meantime the other guy whose guns
13:04
already out has already shot you’ve lost
13:06
you need to be someone who forgets about
13:08
your own gun and just focuses on the on
13:12
the man in front of you right and
13:13
protected the president but he was all
13:15
in the context of time is this really
13:18
crucial
13:20
variable in these kind of encounters and
13:22
everything as a police officer you
13:24
should be doing is slowing it down wait
13:28
I you know
13:30
analyze what’s happening and that’s what
13:33
he doesn’t do the cop in this instance
13:35
speeds it up right he goes to DEFCON you
13:39
know she likes a cigarette and within
13:40
seconds he’s screaming at her this is
13:43
like you know a parent shouldn’t do that
13:45
I mean let a little police officer by
13:47
the side of the highway Brett but the
13:48
difference is he knows she’s not a
13:50
criminal
13:50
I mean he must know it’s [ __ ]
13:54
he’s pulling her over because he’s
13:56
trying to write a ticket and the way
13:58
he’s communicating with her when she
13:59
lights a cigarette
14:00
it’s like she’s inferior like he this is
14:04
not someone who’s scared he’s not scared
14:07
of a perpetrator he’s not scared that
14:09
there’s a criminal in the car about to
14:10
shoot him he’s not scared of that at all
14:12
he wants uh Terr total complete
14:15
compliance and he’s talking to her like
14:18
like he’s a drill sergeant but can’t you
14:21
can’t both those things be true how so
14:25
well in this so in the deposition he
14:27
gives which I get to the end of the book
14:29
and I got the tape of the deposition
14:30
it’s bad it’s totally fascinating
14:32
it’s like he’s sitting down with the
14:34
investigating officer in looking into
14:37
the death of Sandra bland and he’s got I
14:39
don’t know how long it is two hours now
14:41
he’s walking them through what he was
14:43
thinking that day and he makes the case
14:46
that he was terrified that he was
14:49
convinced he says he goes back to his
14:52
squad car comes up and there’s submit
14:55
there’s some evidence to support this so
14:57
he pulls her over and he goes to the
14:59
passenger side window and leans and says
15:02
ma’am you realize why I pulled you over
15:04
blah blah and is are you okay because he
15:06
she doesn’t seem right to him she gives
15:09
him her license he goes back to his
15:10
squad car and he says while he’s in the
15:12
squad car he looks ahead and he sees her
15:15
making what he calls furtive movements
15:17
so he’s like furtive movements also he
15:20
thinks she’s being all kind of jumpy and
15:23
you know isn’t he just says I saw her
15:25
moving around in ways it didn’t make me
15:27
happy and then when he returns to the
15:29
car he returns driver’s side which is
15:32
crucial because if
15:33
you’re a cop you go driver’s side only
15:35
if you think that you might be in danger
15:36
right he doesn’t if you go driver’s side
15:39
you’re exposing yourself to the road
15:40
when you reason you do that is it when
15:42
your driver’s side you can see the it’s
15:45
very very difficult if someone has a gun
15:47
to shoot the police officer who’s pulled
15:50
them over if the police officer is on
15:51
the driver’s side right you have an
15:53
angle if they’re on the passenger side
15:55
so why does he go but if he thinks she’s
15:57
harmless there’s no reason to go back
15:58
driver’s side I think this guy I think
16:01
these two things are linked I actually
16:02
believe him he constructs this
16:04
ridiculous fantasy about how she’s
16:08
dangerous but I think that’s just what
16:10
he was trained to do he’s a paranoid cop
16:12
and then why is he’s so insistent that
16:16
she be compliant for the same reason
16:19
because he’s terrified he’s like do
16:21
exactly what I say cuz I don’t know what
16:23
the what’s gonna happen here right and
16:24
she’s I you know I I don’t know I I
16:28
don’t think those two those two strains
16:32
of of interpretation are mutually
16:34
exclusive mmm that’s interesting it
16:37
didn’t sound like he was scared at all
16:40
it sounds like he was pissed that she
16:42
wasn’t listening to him yeah I didn’t I
16:44
didn’t think he sounded even remotely
16:45
scared I felt like he had I mean we’re
16:49
reading into it right right I have no
16:51
idea but from my interpretation was he
16:54
had decided that she wasn’t listening to
16:57
him and he was gonna make her listen him
16:59
yeah that’s what I got out of it I
17:01
didn’t get any fear and I thought that
17:03
version of it that he described just
17:05
sounds like horseshit it sounds like
17:07
what you would say after the fact to
17:09
strengthen your case well they so
17:12
there’s another element in here that I
17:13
get into which is I got his record as a
17:17
police officer he’d been on the on the
17:19
force for I forgot nine ten months and
17:22
we have a record of every traffic stop
17:24
he ever made and when you look at his
17:26
list of traffic stops you reason you
17:28
realized that what happened that day
17:30
with Sandra bland was not an anomaly
17:33
that he’s one of those guys who pulls
17:35
over everyone for [ __ ] reasons mmm
17:38
all day long so I think I’ve forgotten
17:40
exact number but in the hour before he
17:43
pulled over Sandra bland he pulled over
17:45
for people for other people for equally
17:48
ridiculous reasons he’s that cop no and
17:51
he’s that cop because he’s been trained
17:53
that way right that’s a kind of quotas
17:55
strange strain of modern policing which
17:57
says go beyond the ticket pull someone
17:59
over if you if anything looks a little
18:01
bit weird because you might find
18:02
something else now if you look at his
18:04
history as a cop he almost never found
18:06
anything else his history is a cop in
18:09
fact I went through this I forget how
18:11
many hundreds of traffic stops he had in
18:13
nine months if you go through them
18:15
he has like once he found some marijuana
18:17
on a kid and by the way the town in
18:19
which he was working as a college town
18:21
so I mean how hard is that I think he
18:24
found a gun once misdemeanor gun but
18:28
everything else was like pulling over
18:30
people for you know the the light above
18:33
their license plate was out got that’s
18:37
the level of stuff he was using he did
18:39
this all day long every day
18:43
so he’s like to him it’s second nature
18:46
yeah pull her over like who knows what’s
18:49
going on she’s out of state she’s young
18:51
black woman was this comparable to the
18:53
way the rest of the cops on the force
18:54
and his division did it well I looked at
18:57
I didn’t look at the rest of the cops on
18:59
his voice what I looked at were state
19:02
numbers to the wherever they’re several
19:05
American states give us like North
19:07
Carolina for example will give us
19:10
precise complete statistics on the
19:16
number of traffic stops done by their
19:18
police officers and the reasons for
19:20
those stops so when you look at that so
19:22
I have the I look at the North Carolina
19:24
numbers for example in the North
19:25
Carolina Highway Patrol it’s the same
19:27
thing they’re pulling over unbelievable
19:29
numbers of people and finding nothing
19:31
like night you know one percent less
19:34
than one percent hit rates in some cases
19:36
of being hit rate being finding
19:38
something of interest
19:39
so like they’re pulling over ninety nine
19:41
people for no reason in order to find
19:43
one person who’s got you know a bag of
19:46
dope or something in the car
19:48
you cannot conduct policing in in a
19:53
civil society like that and expect to
19:55
have decent relationships between law
19:57
enforcement
19:58
in the civilian population yeah no
20:00
question but doesn’t that sort of
20:02
support the idea that he’s full of [ __ ]
20:03
that he was really concerned that she
20:05
had something he’d never encountered
20:07
anything well or or this was the one the
20:11
fantasy in his head is so what so the
20:13
questions why does he keep doing it if
20:14
this is a guy who day in day out pulls
20:16
over people for no reason and finds
20:18
nothing and continues to do it
20:20
now there’s two explanations one is he’s
20:22
totally cynical and thinks this is the
20:24
way to be an effective police officer X
20:26
mission number two is this is a guy who
20:28
has a powerful fantasy in his head that
20:30
one day I’m gonna hit the jackpot and
20:33
I’m gonna open the trunk and is going to
20:34
be 15 pounds of heroin and I’m gonna be
20:37
the biggest star who ever lived I think
20:39
there’s also a rush of just being able
20:41
to get people to pull over this the the
20:44
compliance thing which is another reason
20:46
why he was so furious that what she
20:47
wasn’t listening to him yeah and she
20:48
kept a cigarette lit yeah or she was
20:51
listening but not complying yes yeah um
20:53
what are the laws I mean are you allowed
20:56
to smoke a cigarette in your car when a
20:57
cop pulls you over how does it work like
21:00
that
21:00
yeah I mean of course yeah they can’t
21:03
stop you from engaging they can’t tell
21:05
you to put out your cigarette there’s no
21:07
law no he could have said I mean no
21:10
there’s no law I mean the car though two
21:13
things the courts historically give
21:16
enormous leeway to the police officers
21:19
in a traffic stop as opposed to a
21:21
person-to-person stop but uh but no I I
21:24
mean right this is about what he should
21:26
have said is he could have said ma’am do
21:31
you mind I would prefer if you put out
21:35
the cigarette while we’re talking or I’m
21:37
allergic to smoke or whatever I mean
21:39
he’s a million ways to him to do it
21:40
nicely
21:40
yeah but he’s he’s a jackass about yeah
21:42
but I mean he’s basically doing the job
21:46
like a jackass he’s doing a jackass
21:48
version of being a cop well so this is
21:50
so this is one of a really really
21:53
crucial point in the argument of the
21:54
book which is I think the real lesson of
21:58
that case is not that he’s a bad cop
22:00
he’s in fact doing precisely as he is
22:02
was in trained and instructed to do he’s
22:05
a he’s the ideal cop and the problem is
22:10
with the particular philosophy of
22:12
law enforcement that has emerged over
22:14
the last ten years in this country which
22:16
has incentivized and encouraged police
22:20
officers to engage in these incredibly
22:23
low reward activities like pulling over
22:26
a hundred people or defying one person
22:28
who’s done something wrong that has
22:29
become enshrined in the strategy of many
22:32
police forces around the country they
22:34
tell them to do this I have a whole
22:37
section of book right go through in
22:38
detail one of the most important police
22:41
training manuals which is you know
22:45
required reading for somebody coming up
22:47
and which they just walk you through
22:48
this like it is your job to pull over
22:51
lots and lots and lots and lots of
22:53
people even if you only find something
22:55
in a small percentage of cases why
22:57
that’s what being a proactive police
22:58
officer is all about right so they are
23:01
trained that that phrase go beyond the
23:03
ticket is a is a term of art in police
23:07
training like you got to be thinking you
23:09
sure you pulled him over for having a
23:11
taillight that’s out
23:12
but you’re look you’re thinking beyond
23:14
that is there something else in the car
23:16
that’s problematic that’s to try to find
23:18
so there he was being a dutiful police
23:22
officer and the the answer is to
23:24
re-examine our philosophies of law
23:27
enforcement not know I mean you can’t
23:30
dismiss this thing by saying oh that’s
23:32
just a particularly bad cop not great
23:34
but I don’t know if he’s any worse than
23:36
you know he’s just doing what he was
23:38
trained to do that’s the issue
23:40
he should be trained to do something
23:41
different right that is the issue right
23:42
the issue is there this is standard
23:45
practice a treat citizens that are doing
23:48
nothing wrong as if they’re criminals
23:50
yeah and pull them over and give them
23:52
extreme paranoia and freak them out yeah
23:55
I hope you find something I was home I’m
23:58
Canadian and I was home in Canada
24:00
small-town Canada couple weeks ago and I
24:04
saw in the pack you know how these cars
24:06
always have there’s often that our
24:08
slogan on the side of the car the back
24:09
of the commune so in my little hometown
24:11
in southwestern Ontario sleepy you know
24:14
farm country the slogan on the back of
24:17
the police cars is people helping people
24:20
so Canadian like the X know understand
24:25
this
24:26
country with very low levels of gun
24:29
ownership which means that a police
24:30
officer does not enter into an encounter
24:32
with a civilian with the same degree of
24:34
fear or paranoia that the civilian has a
24:37
handgun right which is a big part of
24:39
this regardless of how one feels about
24:42
gun laws in this country the fact that
24:44
there are lots of guns mean makes the
24:46
job of a police officer a lot harder and
24:48
every police officer will tell you that
24:49
in Canada they don’t have that fear but
24:51
it’s also Canada and its small town
24:53
Canada and so when you encounter a
24:55
police officer in my little town he’s
24:57
like he’s people helping people he’s
24:59
like he’s like driving like a Camry and
25:02
he’s you know he’s like this genial
25:04
person who was a really camera amis I
25:06
forgotten exactly what the driver was
25:08
not like they’re not driving scars yeah
25:11
explorers painted black with like big
25:14
bull bars at the front right and then
25:17
you go you know I was you go I mean even
25:20
in LA I hate you know I like that
25:22
cars are painted black and white so they
25:25
look ferocious I mean the whole thing
25:27
that was it is still look ferocious do I
25:30
just look they identify as police to
25:32
connait to a Canadian looks to me it
25:35
looks a little why do they have to paint
25:37
them black forgets nothing Oakland
25:39
Raiders I mean it’s like what do you
25:41
think they should paint them something
25:43
mild and like bright yellow something
25:45
lovely something lovely like a nice can
25:48
you imagine a like a teal or a
25:50
lime-green well that would be yeah
25:52
because there’s a lot of black cars a
25:54
lot of white cars a lot of teal cars
25:55
it’s good so it would yeah it would
25:57
stand out like oh it’s cop this paint
26:00
car but you know this kind of symbolism
26:03
right matters right right you wanna see
26:06
an image sheriff joe arpaio who makes
26:08
all those prisoners wear pink yeah yeah
26:11
that’s kind of thing but I mean to
26:14
against his point though how many women
26:16
shoot cops
26:18
isn’t that an insanely low number yeah I
26:21
mean insanely low I mean what are the
26:24
numbers I mean it’s probably almost
26:26
non-existent
26:27
yeah well guys pull over women I don’t
26:29
think they’re worried about being shot I
26:30
really don’t I think it’s horseshit I
26:33
think it’s all after the fact yeah he
26:35
was trying to concoct some sort of an
26:36
excuse I was gonna excuse for
26:38
is he still in the force I know he was
26:41
either he’s kicked off for I forgotten
26:46
the precise language they used but for
26:48
basically being impolite to a civilian
26:52
but um yeah I don’t think there’s a lot
26:54
of but I don’t know whether I mean I I
26:57
still think we’re saying the same thing
26:59
which is the thing that’s driving him
27:02
his motivation is not rational right and
27:05
if you were a rational actor you would
27:07
never engage in an activity where 99.9%
27:10
of your police stops resulted in nothing
27:13
right
27:14
yeah he’s he is off in some weird kind
27:17
of fantasy land for a reason which is
27:20
that’s what in certain jurisdictions in
27:23
this country that’s what law enforcement
27:24
has come to look at Brooke like yeah
27:26
that’s that’s problematic it’s a huge
27:28
problem
27:34
[Applause]

The Great Google Revolt

Some of its employees tried to stop their company from doing work they saw as unethical. It blew up in their faces.

It’s Not Nice to Lie to the Supreme Court

The decision in the census case suggests President Trump can no longer take the court for granted.

A cynic might say that with his two major decisions on the last day of the Supreme Court term a week ago, Chief Justice John Roberts saved both the Republican Party and the court — first by shutting the federal courts’ door to claims of partisan gerrymandering, a practice in which both political parties indulge but that Republicans have perfected to a high art, and then by refusing to swallow the Trump administration’s dishonest rationale for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

President Trump, having placed two justices on the Supreme Court, had taken to treating the court as a wholly owned subsidiary, and not without some justification. It was the court, after all, in an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, joined by the other four Republican-appointed justices, that saved the president’s Muslim travel ban a year ago. But the chief justice’s opinion in the census case last week blew a hole in what appeared to be a protective firewall that the president can no longer take for granted.

I’m not joining the cynics, especially now that the citizenship question is dead — or so it seemed on Tuesday, based on the Justice Department’s assertion to the federal district judge handling a companion case in Maryland that the census forms were being printed without the citizenship question. On Wednesday, a furious President Trump ordered the Justice Department to reverse course; what followed was a telephone colloquy between that federal judge, George Hazel, and the lawyers for which the word bizarre is a breathtaking understatement. “I can’t possibly predict at this juncture what exactly is going to happen,” Joshua Gardner, a Justice Department lawyer, told the judge, who gave the administration until Friday afternoon to get its story straight.

It would take a heart of stone not to feel sorry for the administration’s lawyers, faced with defending the indefensible. As they recognized 24 hours earlier, the chief justice’s opinion in fact left no wiggle room. Once the behavior of Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce, was called out by the Supreme Court of the United States, the president was trapped — and now his lawyers are caught in his net. Maybe they can find a way around the chief justice’s decision, but I don’t think so.

Here’s why: Once the court rejected the administration’s stated rationale as phony — or “contrived,” as Chief Justice Roberts put it more politely in agreeing with Federal District Judge Jesse Furman that improved enforcement of the Voting Rights Act was not Secretary Ross’s real motive — the administration might have tried to come up with some other politically palatable explanation. That would almost certainly have failed, because courts generally will not accept what they call “post hoc rationalizations,” explanations cooked up under pressure and after the fact. But even if such a ploy had succeeded, its very success would have proved Secretary Ross to have been a liar all along.

The citizenship question is now history, fortunately, but this whole episode is too fascinating, too important for the country and the court, to put behind us just yet. So in this column, I want to probe the census decision itself, both for what it tells us about the court and for what it might suggest about the next test of the relationship between the president and the court that he has so recently regarded as his very own. That is the question of the validity of the president’s rescission of the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama-era policy that now protects the “dreamers,” some 700,000 young undocumented people brought to this country as children, from being thrown out of the only country they have ever known. The court will hear that case in its next term, and there are some striking parallels with the census case that just might leave the Trump administration empty-handed again.

But first, the census case. I’ve been obsessed with imagining whatever dark night of the soul preceded the chief justice’s last-minute decision to shift course and reject the administration’s position.

I readily admit that I have no sources for the claim I just made. I have no proof that Chief Justice Roberts initially voted with the administration and talked himself out of that position sometime during the two months that elapsed between the April argument and the June decision. But I’ve been reading Supreme Court decisions for a very long time, and the opinions that provide the holding — the chief justice’s plus the partially concurring opinion of Justice Stephen Breyer for the court’s four liberals — have all the hallmarks of judicial tectonic plates that shifted late in the day to produce an outcome that none of the players anticipated at the start.

To begin with the chief justice’s opinion: The first 22 of its 28 pages are an argument for why the decision by Secretary Ross to add the citizenship question to the census was a reasonable one that fell squarely within his authority. Noting that Mr. Ross rejected the advice of Census Bureau experts and decided to proceed despite the risk of depressing the response rate, Chief Justice Roberts writes, “That decision was reasonable and reasonably explained, particularly in light of the long history of the citizenship question on the census.”

Then suddenly, on page 23, the opinion’s tone changes as the chief justice reviews the finding by Federal District Judge Furman that Secretary Ross’s explanation for why he wanted the citizenship question in the first place was a pretext. The official story was that it would help the Department of Justice — which was said to have requested the addition of the question — to better enforce the Voting Rights Act on behalf of members of minority groups. In fact, as Judge Furman determined from the evidence, it was Secretary Ross who solicited the Justice Department’s request, and whatever the secretary’s motivation, the reason he gave wasn’t the real one.

“We are presented,” Chief Justice Roberts observes dryly, “with an explanation for agency action that is incongruent with what the record reveals about the agency’s priorities and decision making process.” He continues:

“The reasoned explanation requirement of administrative law, after all, is meant to ensure that agencies offer genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public. Accepting contrived reasons would defeat the purpose of the enterprise. If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case.”

Justice Breyer’s opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, is almost as long as the chief justice’s. Nearly all of it reads like a dissent, arguing that Secretary Ross’s rejection of his own experts’ advice made the addition of the citizenship question unreasonable as a matter of law, “arbitrary and capricious” in the language of the Administrative Procedure Act. Only in Justice Breyer’s concluding paragraphs is there anything that reads like a concurrence: “I agree that the pretextual nature of the secretary’s decision provides a sufficient basis to affirm the District Court’s decision to send the matter back to the agency.” It’s hard to read these few paragraphs as anything other than a last-minute addition to a carefully crafted dissenting opinion, one that had rather suddenly become superfluous.

There were two other opinions filed in the case, one by Justice Clarence Thomas that was joined by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and another by Justice Samuel Alito. Both disagreed vigorously with the chief justice’s bottom line. All four opinions scrupulously avoided any mention of what everybody knew: that documents brought to light in the weeks following the April 23 argument showed that the citizenship question was part of a plan not to help minority groups vote, but the opposite. The plan was to create and entrench Republican majorities in state legislatures by providing data for use if the Supreme Court gives the green light to counting only eligible voters in legislative redistricting. Conservative groups are poised to send such a case to the Supreme Court in the near future, part of a strategy to keep rapidly diversifying red states like Texas from turning blue.

There is no doubt that the justices were aware of this late-breaking development; during the days leading up to the decision, one of the plaintiff groups challenging the citizenship question had filed a brief with the court detailing the findings from the computer files of a recently deceased Republican redistricting specialist. If I’m right about the chief justice’s late-in-the-day change of heart, did these revelations play a part, even a subconscious one? That’s more speculation than even I am willing to engage in. Suffice it to say that it’s hard to imagine the administration’s litigating position undermined in a more devastating fashion.

It’s that observation that brings me to the DACA case. The court will actually hear three DACA cases, consolidated for a single argument and decision. All three are appeals by the administration of rulings that have barred it from carrying out its decision, announced in September 2017, to “unwind” the program. At issue are two Federal District Court opinions and a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that upheld a ruling by a federal district judge in San Francisco, William Alsup. The opinions differ slightly, but all found that the administration’s termination of DACA for the reason the administration has provided would violate the Administrative Procedure Act.

Here’s where the administration is caught. Its stated reason, as expressed by the acting secretary of homeland security on orders from the attorney general at the time, Jeff Sessions, was that DACA lacked statutory authority and was unconstitutional. At the heart of the administration’s appeal is the assertion that the federal courts lack jurisdiction to interfere with the “Executive Branch’s authority to revoke a discretionary policy of nonenforcement that is sanctioning an ongoing violation of federal immigration law by nearly 700,000 aliens.”

That is a very difficult position for the administration to maintain because it presents to the courts a question not of policy but of law. The administration would have a strong case for judicial deference if it described its rejection of DACA as a matter of enforcement priorities that differ from those of the previous administration. But by claiming that “the law is making us do it,” the administration is serving up the federal judges a question at the heart of their jurisdiction: What does the law require?

As Judge John D. Bates of the Federal District Court in Washington observed in his opinion, the administration provided only a few sentences of legal analysis to back up its claim. “This scant legal reasoning was insufficient to satisfy the department’s obligation to explain its departure from its prior stated view that DACA was lawful,” Judge Bates explained.

So the question is why the administration failed to offer a policy-based explanation, one that might well have persuaded the lower courts and eased its path to the Supreme Court. One reason might have been to protect the president, who declared shortly after his inauguration that “we are not after the dreamers, we are after the criminals” and that “the dreamers should rest easy.” The reason for going after the dreamers had therefore to be based on a claim of pure law, not a change of heart.

A more cynical explanation — and here I’ll indulge in the cynicism from which I refrained at the beginning of this column — is that in claiming that revoking the policy is required by law and not preference, the administration seeks to avoid accountability for a position that, if it were to prevail, would predictably cause economic disruption and public dismay.

Many policy positions predictably affect hundreds of thousands or millions of people; had Republicans succeeded in gutting the Affordable Care Act, for example, millions of people would have been thrown back into the health care jungle. But we don’t know their names. The DACA recipients, by contrast, have names that are known, not only to the Department of Homeland Security but to their schools, their employers, their communities. One dreamer recently received a Rhodes Scholarship and will not be able to return to the United States from Oxford if the administration wins its case. Others with less exalted achievements are simply getting their degrees, holding down jobs, paying their taxes, raising some 200,000 American-born children and going about their lives in the country they regard as their own.

The dreamers will still be here next April, when the census takers come around; the Supreme Court decision will almost certainly not be issued by then. They will be counted along with the rest of us in the grand decennial enumeration that the Constitution’s framers decreed. And a year from now, we’ll know whether the court that could see through one Trump administration strategy is willing and able to do it a second time.

Supreme Court Blocks Citizenship Question From 2020 Census for Now

Trump administration’s official explanation for adding the question ‘seems to have been contrived,’ according to the majority opinion

WASHINGTON—A divided Supreme Court on Thursday prevented the Trump administration, for now, from asking U.S. residents on the 2020 census whether they are citizens, a considerable setback for the White House.

The court, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, didn’t issue a definitive decision finding the citizenship question unlawful, but it raised concerns about the Trump administration’s stated reason for adding the question to the census.

In strong language, the chief justice, joined by the court’s four liberal justices, said the administration’s official explanation “seems to have been contrived.”

The court sent the case back for more proceedings, leaving the 2020 census in a state of uncertainty—though if the deadline for finalizing the form is July 1, as census officials said this week, the question won’t be on it. However in at least one government filing, a census official gave the final date as Oct. 31.

Three different U.S. district judges have ruled that including the question was unlawful, with each finding that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had not provided the public with his real reasons for doing so.

The Supreme Court’s ruling, which comes at a time of deeply divided immigration politics, could have considerable ramifications for the U.S. population count, as well as the drawing of congressional districts and the allocation of more than $600 billion in federal funds that are based on census data.

The census, mandated by the Constitution, counts all U.S. residents, regardless of citizenship or residency status.

A group of 18 states that sued Mr. Ross, as well as some career Census Bureau staffers, said adding a citizenship question would dampen response rates in immigrant-heavy communities, even in households with legal residents. If that happens, those communities could see a smaller piece of the federal pie, both in political representation and government funding.

The Trump administration said Mr. Ross, whose department oversees the Census Bureau, had the legal authority to include the question and determined that the benefits of having the citizenship data outweighed the potential of a lower response rate. It also pointed to earlier census surveys in the nation’s history that had asked about citizenship.

Mr. Ross’s explanations for adding the question have shifted over time. He and other Trump administration officials have said that census citizenship data would help the Justice Department with its efforts to comply with the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights.

Legal challengers in the case have said the administration’s reasons were the opposite—to dilute minority representation—and they said additional evidence has come to light recently that supports their claims. A Maryland federal judge this week said that evidence, which came from the files of a GOP political consultant who died last year, “potentially connects the dots between a discriminatory purpose—diluting Hispanics’ political power—and Secretary Ross’s decision.”

The evidence wasn’t directly before the Supreme Court when it took up the case, though it has received additional legal filings from both sides in recent weeks. New lower court proceedings are pending, though it isn’t clear what impact, if any, those will have after the high court’s ruling.

In April when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the census, President Trump said Americans deserved to know how many citizens were among those residing in their country.

Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing survey answers with federal immigration authorities, but a survey commissioned by the bureau last year found that asking about citizenship could be a substantial barrier to getting people to participate.

The whole country hasn’t been asked about citizenship on the decennial survey since 1950, but the government in recent years has asked a smaller sample of U.S. residents about their status.

The citizenship question touches on the broader immigration agenda that has been a central focus of the Trump presidency. Mr. Trump has barred travel by people from certain Muslim-majority countriesa ban the Supreme Court upheld last year. Mr. Trump’s administration also has attempted to limit immigrant claims for asylum; tried to cancel Obama-era benefits for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children; and sought to build new barriers on the southern border. All of those efforts remain tied up in the courts.