Court denies DOJ's lawyer swap in citizenship question case

Saul Bowman
July 12, 2019

The inaccurate claims have spread widely online since the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against the Trump administration in its push to add the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 form.

President Trump plans to hold a news conference Thursday where he's expected to announce an executive action related to the ongoing battle over the 2020 census.

A federal judge on Monday rejected a request by the Trump administration to assign a new legal team to a lawsuit that blocked the US from adding the proposed citizenship question.

Last week, the president told reporters that the administration was "looking into" issuing an executive order that would mandate the question be added to the census.

Paul Clement, the Bush administration's top Supreme Court lawyer from 2004 to 2008, voiced doubt about whether the Supreme Court ultimately would sign off on any new efforts.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, playing off of Trump's political slogan of "Make America Great Again", says Trump's attempt to add the question is an effort to "Make America White Again".

"Every way forward for the citizenship question is a dead end", Thomas Wolf, counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, told Newsweek.

Adding the question, critics say, could result in minorities being undercounted by scaring off even legal residents or naturalized citizens from completing the decennial questionnaire, which is also used to determine funding for an array of government programs.

Federal judges in both NY and Maryland have denied the government's attempt to withdraw the previous attorneys, both saying the government has not provided enough information on how a transition between the teams wouldn't serve to disrupt ongoing legal proceedings. "A version of this question has been on the census since the 1800s".


The U.S. Census Bureau is part of the Commerce Department.

"The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE!" He also reaffirmed the Supreme Court's finding that the question is legal.

Furman's July 9 opinion said the departing lawyers' sworn affidavits should confirm that they will submit to continuing jurisdiction of the court regarding sanctions.

The American Community Survey, which polls 3.5 million US households every year, already includes questions about respondents' citizenship, so it is unclear what Trump has in mind.

"You need it for many reasons". The department, led by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee, sought to shake up its legal team by replacing the lawyers involved with handling litigation on the census.

The attorney who was leading the team, James Burnham, "indicated it was a logical breaking point since a new decision would be made and the issue going forward would hopefully be separate from the historical debates", Barr said.

Following that decision, the Justice and Commerce Departments announced last week that they were dropping any renewed effort to add the citizenship question.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in an interview on Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends" Thursday morning that he's expecting Trump to announce an executive order, and said he thinks "it's a good move".

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