A district court judge in New York denied a request by the Department of Justice to change the lawyers that are part of the case involving the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The decision is the latest blow to the efforts of the Trump Administration who want the question added.
Judge Jessee Furman characterized the 11th-hour request by the Department of Justice as ‘patently deficient’ and said the request was without reason.
The attempt to shake up the team of lawyers began following a June 27 decision by the United States Supreme Court to deny the addition of the question to the census. The Supreme Court decided the rationale for adding the question was not sufficient but left the door open for a possible addition by suggesting the Trump Administration come up with another rationale.
The Department of Justice made court filings on Monday that announced the lawyer changes but both the American Civil Liberties Union and attorneys for the state of New York protested the changes.
In the order penned by Furman, the judge wrote that not only was there not a satisfactory reason for the changes but the defendant provided no reason at all. Judge Furman also mentioned the fact there are deadlines in the case that must be met.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice did not wish to comment on the latest legal obstacle.
An official for the ACLU said the DOJ owes the court and the American people an explanation for the last minute replacement of an entire legal team. The official went on to say the Trump administration appears to be hiding something and the ACLU would not rest until their secret is revealed.
The judge made an allowance for future requests from the department to change lawyers. However, each request must be accompanied by an affidavit explaining the reason.
The Trump team maintains the question is needed because the country needs to know how many non-citizens reside within its borders. The tough stance of the Republicans regarding immigration is the main theme of Trump’s 2020 reelection bid.
President Trump has said in the past he would consider an executive order to have the question added to the census questionnaire despite the fact Congress is assigned the job of census oversight by the Constitution.
The printing of the census forms is presently underway and Democrats have expressed they would not support spending additional money to reprint the documents.