After the final version of SAFE is published, it will go to the courts. Its odds of survival are unclear. Historically, regulatory agencies win about 70 percent of their court challenges, Lienke said. Yet under the Trump administration, agencies have lost more than 90 percent of their cases, according to an ongoing tally from the Institute for Policy Integrity.

Many of those losses came in cases like this one, in which agencies published false, misleading, or fundamentally erroneous explanations of their own rules. In June, the Supreme Court held that the Trump administration could not add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, because the Department of Commerce’s internal motivations did not match its publicly stated reasoning.

Agencies must “offer genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion. “The explanation provided here was more of a distraction.”

We Knew They Had Cooked the Books by Robinson Meyer