In siding with President Trump in a lawsuit over his financial conflicts of interest, a federal court of appeals invoked a controversial legal principle that undermines the judiciary’s checking and balancing role. According to the court, Maryland and the District of Columbia lacked “standing” to sue the President. The court therefore dismissed the suit, without deciding whether the President was breaking the law. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has invoked the standing doctrine many times to block the public from holding Presidents and other government officials accountable for their actions.

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At oral argument last week, the Supreme Court seemed poised to side with President Trump on the question whether the U.S. Census Bureau can ask people if they are U.S. citizens. Critics have objected to inquiring about citizenship status, observing that doing so is likely to result in an undercount, since many non-citizens will decline to participate in the census. Other non-citizens are likely to answer untruthfully, rendering the data about citizenship inaccurate.

While the Court’s conservative ideological bias will be a key factor in the outcome, also critical is the extent to which Congress has delegated its policy making power to the White House and the extent to which the Court has been willing to allow the delegation. Previous Court decisions, supported by both conservative and liberal justices, provide the Court with ample basis for a pro-Trump decision. 
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