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FOX News intern Brannon Dewolf runs with a decision released by the Supreme Court. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is now firmly in control of a firmly conservative court, and the concessions conservatives sometimes have to accept from him are not large.

Driving the news: President Trump criticized the court today after it said his administration has not offered a persuasive justification for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

  • The case had echoes of the challenge to Trump’s travel ban, in which Roberts opted not to question the administration’s motives.
  • This time, the mountain of evidence was simply too big, Roberts said. “We cannot ignore the disconnect between the decision made and the explanation given,” he wrote.
  • But the court gave the administration the chance to try again. It may well be able to add the citizenship question in the end, even without delaying the survey, election-law expert Rich Hasen writes.

The big picture: Even if it can’t, and the Census proceeds without a citizenship question, that loss pales in comparison to the victory conservatives won in the day’s real blockbuster ruling, on partisan gerrymandering.

  • Roberts effectively gave state legislatures a green light to be as aggressive as they want in redrawing legislative maps to preserve their partisan advantage. After today, no federal court will be able to tell a state it has gone too far. 
  • Republicans don’t have a monopoly on gerrymandering. The court was considering one GOP-led map and one that favored Democrats. But because Republicans control more state legislatures right now, they’ll benefit more from the unrestrained power to preserve those majorities.

The bottom line: Roberts may have denied Trump a question on the Census, but he’s handed the Republicans in control of most statehouses an incredibly valuable tool to preserve that power.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.

31 mins ago - Technology

Why domestic terrorists are so hard to police online

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Domestic terrorism has proven to be more difficult for Big Tech companies to police online than foreign terrorism.

The big picture: That's largely because the politics are harder. There's more unity around the need to go after foreign extremists than domestic ones — and less danger of overreaching and provoking a backlash.