John Roberts pulls out the thesaurus for one of Trump’s nearly 11,000 lies

Chief Justice John Roberts used every euphemism in the thesaurus this week to accuse the Trump administration of lying.

“The evidence tells a story that does not match the . . . explanation.”

“The sole stated reason — seems to have been contrived.”

There was “a significant mismatch between the decision . . . and the rationale.”

The “explanation . . . is incongruent with what the record reveals.”

Furthermore, it was a “distraction” from the truth, “based on a pretextual rationale” and lacked “a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.”

The chief justice, writing for the majority in the closely watched census case, was referring to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s baldfaced lie: He testified to Congress that he added a citizenship question to the census “solely” because the Justice Department requested it to help with enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Three separate judges found that to be false , and evidence emerging since the trials confirmed appearances: The real rationale was to reduce the power of nonwhite people and Democrats.

“We cannot ignore the disconnect between the decision made and the explanation given,” Roberts wrote, noting that precedent says the Supreme Court isn’t “required to exhibit a naiveté from which ordinary citizens are free.” He went on: “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.”

The truth was on trial before the Supreme Court in the census case. The good news: The facts won. The bad news: It was a 5-to-4 decision.

Incredibly, Justice Samuel Alito, in a dissent, argued that it’s perfectly acceptable for the administration to lie to the courts. “The federal judiciary has no authority to stick its nose into . . . whether the reasons given by Secretary Ross for that decision were his only reasons or his real reasons.” Phony reasons are welcome in Alito’s courtroom!

The victory might be temporary — Roberts essentially invited the administration to concoct a new rationale for the discriminatory census question — but in this dark moment for the truth, it’s worth celebrating even a fleeting acknowledgment from the high court that facts still matter.

Dishonesty is the coin of the realm for President Trump, who is closing in on 11,000 falsehoods, by The Post’s tally, while various of his former officials have been convicted of lying. Trump delights his supporters by declaring unwelcome facts “fake news,” and the courts have struggled with his falsehoods. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, sentencing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, nobly proclaimed that “court is one of those places where facts still matter,” but that’s not always true: In embracing Trump’s “travel ban,” the Supreme Court accepted the administration’s pretext and determinedly ignored extensive evidence of Trump’s anti-Muslim bias.

The census was different for Roberts, who, as he has done in a few politically charged cases, sided with the court’s liberal justices in an apparent effort to protect the court’s credibility.

The Census Bureau’s own experts strongly resisted the citizenship question, saying it would suppress participation by households with noncitizens — even legal ones — by about 8 percent and cause a 2.2 percentage-point drop-off in participation. Emails made public after the Supreme Court heard the case show that the architect of the plan saw the move as “advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.” One of the judges who originally heard the case issued a further ruling this week that the new evidence points to a “possible, if not likely, conclusion that the decision-makers adopted [the architect’s] discriminatory purpose.”

The chief justice, though not touching the recent evidence, argued that while courts generally don’t second-guess policy makers’ motivations, there is an exception for a “strong showing of bad faith.” Ross himself had changed his story , eventually admitting that he nudged the Justice Department to request the citizenship question — as cover for a move he had pushed from the start with White House encouragement.

The law, Roberts wrote, requires “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.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by both Trump appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, took a position similar to Alito’s: The truth is irrelevant. Ridiculing the majority’s view that Ross “must not be telling the truth,” Thomas protested: “Pretext is virtually never an appropriate or relevant inquiry for a reviewing court to undertake.”

That acceptance of pretext fits Trump’s worldview. Trump tweeted after the ruling that he wants to “delay the Census, no matter how long,” to get the question resolved. Who cares if the Constitution says otherwise?

The administration previously claimed the deadline to finalize the 2020 Census was this month. But this, apparently, was another lie.

This vile, unadulterated racism

There is a backstory: In the 1990s, some Texas midwives admitted accepting bribes to falsely claim that some Mexican infants were born in the United States. These same midwives, however, also delivered many more Latino babies, at least thousands, who were legitimately born in the United States. From official records, it is impossible to tell the difference.

The Trump administration appears to be denying passports simply because the applicant is Latino, was born in southern Texas and was delivered by a midwife — something the federal government explicitly promised not to do in a 2009 court settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The administration claims there has been no change in policy. But The Post quoted immigration lawyers who say there has been a dramatic surge in passport denials.

In Juan’s case, the State Department demanded he produce documents including proof of his mother’s prenatal care in the United States, his baptismal certificate and rental agreements from when he was an infant. He managed to find some of this obscure material — and yet his passport application was denied a second time.

If the government had specific evidence that an individual’s birth certificate was falsified, then we could have a debate about the right thing to do. But this administration is assuming that a person of a certain ethnicity, recorded as being born in a certain part of the country and meeting other unspecified criteria, is de facto not a citizen — and has the burden of proving otherwise.

At this point, the Trump administration has the burden of proving this is anything other than vile, unadulterated racism.

Trump launched his presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers. His administration cruelly separated nearly 3,000 migrant children from their families and seeks to make their parents ineligible for asylum. His clear message to would-be Latino immigrants is: No admission.

And now, an equally blunt message for lifelong Latino citizens: Go away.

Brian Kemp, Enemy of Democracy

Shortly before the election, the president endorsed Mr. Kemp, and the political tide turned. He has a skill set that Mr. Trump desperately needed but was curiously silent about in his endorsement: He is a master of voter suppression.

Hackable polling machines, voter roll purges, refusing to register voters until after an election, the use of investigations to intimidate groups registering minorities to vote — Mr. Kemp knows it all.

.. Voter suppression keeps Georgia a red state. Since 2005, Republicans have controlled the State Legislature as well as the governor’s office. Now most of the congressional districts are Republican. So are nearly 64 percent of the state representatives and 66 percent of the state senators.

.. Whites make up less than 60 percent of the state’s population but more than 90 percent of people who voted Republican in the primary. The state’s gerrymandered districts, drawn and redrawn by the Republican-dominated Legislature, mirror the inordinate and disproportionate power of this constituency.
.. He has begun investigations into organizations that registered nearly 200,000 new Asian-American and African-American voters — efforts that resulted in the first majority-black school board in a small town.
His investigations yielded no charges, no indictments, no convictions, despite years of probing, suspects’ losing their jobs and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents knocking on doors. Yet the intimidation had an impact. An attorney from a targeted organization told a reporter: “I’m not going to lie; I was shocked. I was scared.”
.. While Mr. Kemp insisted that these investigations were about preventing in-person voter fraud (which basically doesn’t exist), he was more candid when talking with fellow Republicans: “Democrats are working hard,” he warned in a recording released by a progressive group “registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines.”

“If they can do that, they can win these elections in November,” Mr. Kemp said. Therefore, even after the multiple investigations yielded no indication of fraud, thousands of people registered during these drives were not on the voter registration rolls, and a court ruling kept it that way.

Mr. Kemp also used Exact Match, a version of the infamous Crosscheck database, to put tens of thousands of citizens in electoral limbo, refusing to place them on the rolls if an errant hyphen, a stray letter or a typographical error on someone’s voter registration card didn’t match the records of the state’s driver’s license bureau or the Social Security office

Using this method, Mr. Kemp blocked nearly 35,000 people from the voter rolls. Equally important, African-Americans, who made up a third of the registrants, accounted for almost 66 percent of the rejected applicants. And Asian-Americans and Latino voters were more than six times as likely as whites to have been stymied from registering.

.. But as diligent as he has been about purging eligible citizens from the voter rolls, Mr. Kemp has been just as lax about the cybersecurity of the state’s 27,000 electronic voting machines. Although there were a series of warnings about the ease with which they could be hacked, Mr. Kemp did not respond. Georgia’s electronic voting machines, which run on Windows 2000, leave no paper trail; as a result, there is no way to verify whether the counts are accurate or whether the vote has been hacked.

.. Mr. Kemp finally accepted federal dollars, which he had refused for years, to update some of the machines. But his efforts were too little, too late.

.. officials at Kennesaw State University, which provides logistical support for the state’s election machinery, destroyed the server that housed statewide election data.

.. That series of events, including an April visit to the small campus by Ambassador Sergey Kislyak of Russia, raised warning flags to many observers. But not to Mr. Kemp, who said that there was nothing untoward in any of it; the erasure was “in accordance with standard IT procedures.”

.. Mr. Trump’s endorsement, therefore, was no surprise. Mr. Kemp had pulled off an incredible feat: Georgia’s population increased, but since 2012, the number of registered voters has decreased.

He, like Mr. Trump, has been steadfast in riding the voter-fraud train, regardless of how often and thoroughly the claim has been debunked.

A Kemp victory in November is, therefore, transactional but essential for Mr. Trump. It means that there will be a governor, in a state that demographically should be blue, who is practiced and steeped in the nuances of disfranchisement. Mr. Kemp can rubber-stamp the Legislature’s voter-suppression bills that privilege the Republican Party, artificially increase the Republican representation in Congress and in the end protect a president facing mounting evidence of graft, corruption, conspiracy and the threat of impeachment.