Judge blocks government lawyers from quitting census fight

Cruz: 'Constitutional Responsibility' of Trump, Barr to Go Forward with 2020 Census Citizenship Question

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Justice Department from changing its legal team in a case related to a question about citizenship the Trump administration wants to include on the 2020 census.

"It's fascinating to me we're at a weird place in American where President Donald Trump is being asked why he wants this question included in te census and Democrat aren't being asked why they don't [want it included]", White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said during an interview with Fox News this week.

"Defendants provide no reasons, let alone 'satisfactory reasons, ' for the substitution of counsel", wrote District Judge Jesse Furman, citing upcoming deadlines. As The Post's report notes, the legal team that was to be replaced specializes in this subject; the team that would have replaced it is more of a "truly random assortment", according to Justin Levitt, who worked on such issues in the Obama Justice Department.

Yesterday, Attorney General Bill Barr announced Department of Justice attorneys have found a way to include the question.

It's normal for attorneys to give reasons to "come and go on cases", said Justin Levitt, a former top official in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

"The Trump administration is acting like it has something to hide, and we won't rest until we know the truth", he said.

The Justice Department then notified judges in three similar legal challenges that it planned to find a new legal path to adding the question to the census.

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The Supreme Court ruled that although the executive branch has the right to determine the "form and content" of the census, a citizenship question could lead to inaccurate representation in the House of Representatives and in the presidential electoral system.

"If anything, that urgency - and the need for efficient judicial proceedings - has only grown since that time", Furman said. That doesn't work for Barr and Trump so they're looking to replace the team quick with some hatchet men and women willing to just make stuff up in a desperate bid to keep the census ball in the air.

But nine other lawyers were ordered to remain on the case - for now.

Furman said he would allow the Justice Department to try again.

Trump and his supporters say it makes sense to know how many non-citizens are living in the United States.

Critics of including the citizenship question argued it was designed as part of a Republican ploy to scare immigrants from participating in the survey and to engineer a population undercount in Democratic-leaning communities with large immigrant populations.

Tuesday's ruling is the latest in the controversy around the citizenship question.

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