Monday, July 27, 2020




          President Trump’s more than three-year administrative war on California has now morphed beyond his many attempts to exact revenge upon this state, which provided the margin by which he lost the popular vote in 2016, when the Electoral College made him America’s second minority president out of the last three.

          Not that Trump’s moves against California are trivial: He’s attempted to stop the Golden State’s long-running battle against smog, he’s tried end runs around clean water laws, he’s attempted to end sanctuary city laws passed by many cities, and much more.

          While most of what he’s done against California has been by unilateral decree in the form of executive orders that a new president could countermand, it has usually looked legal. When courts ordered him to stand down, he did.

          That was before he began feeling desperate in the face of polls showing him far behind as the November election approaches.

 Just last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said Trump cannot simply end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program begun under ex-President Barack Obama. The program allows undocumented immigrants brought here as small children to remain in America, where they grew up.

          But Trump wants them deported quickly to countries they have never known. Never mind that more than 10,000 such folks now work on health care front lines fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

          Upon learning of the court ruling, Trump promised to find another way. He soon did. Ignoring the court, he ordered federal officials to stop issuing DACA documents. So much for court orders, which all American presidents have respected, regardless how they felt about those orders.

          That was only a start. Seeing continued demonstrations against police brutality in cities around the nation, Trump next sent a variety of federal agents working for agencies like the Border Patrol and Customs Enforcement into Portland, Ore., to tear gas some of them and arrest some without specifying why, saying they are “violent anarchists.” His surrogates suggest many belong to the loose, almost mythical Antifa, billed as an anarchist organization – an oxymoron when anarchists by definition resist organization.

          Trump next sent hundreds of agents to Seattle, Chicago and Albuquerque, saying they would act against crime and gang shootings. Every state and local official in those places objected, until Chicago’s mayor relented before the inevitable. Trump also threatened to send forces to Oakland, Philadelphia and New York.

          Of course, the Constitution gives him no such authority short of declaring a national emergency, for which he has no grounds. The 10th Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, says the federal government can only deal in specifically authorized fields. Presidents have never had authority to get involved in local law enforcement without local requests. Trump completely disregarded this legality. Maybe that’s why he sent Homeland Security forces rather than the military, which is trained to disobey illegal orders.

          Next, he told the Census Bureau to act illegally in its every-ten-year head count, which determines how many congressional representatives each state will have and often controls federal domestic spending, where states frequently get money in proportion to their population.

          The Constitution charters the Census to count “the whole number of free (meaning non-enslaved) persons” in the land, never mentioning anyone’s legal standing. No other president ever challenged this basic law. But Trump, posing as a “law and order” candidate, has now apparently broken a law he swore to defend.

He did this by ordering the Census, run by the Commerce Department he controls, not to count undocumented immigrants.

          Because an earlier Supreme Court decision forbade placing a citizenship question on the Census questionnaire, no one knows how to identify illegals en masse. That’s unlikely to keep Trump appointees from making a guess, then trying to report it as a fact. This, after all, is the administration that invented the concept of “alternative facts.”

          The timing of the Census means a new president could rescind that order, but first Trump would have to leave office.

          All of which means this president has lately gone far beyond his long-running campaign against California, now warring on fundamental American precepts under the guise of law and order.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

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