DOJ Promises Court The Shake-Up Of Its Census Legal Team Won’t Delay Case

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 3: Signs sit behind the podium before the start of a press conference with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to announce a multi-state lawsuit to block the Trump administration from add... NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 3: Signs sit behind the podium before the start of a press conference with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to announce a multi-state lawsuit to block the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census form, at the headquarters of District Council 37, New York City's largest public employee union, April 3, 2018 in New York City. Critics of President Donald Trump's administration's decision to reinstate the citizenship question contend that that it will frighten people in immigrant communities from responding to the census. The Trump administration has stated a citizenship question on the census will help enforce voting rights. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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July 10, 2019 12:10 p.m.

The Justice Department tried to convince a judge in Maryland to go along with the major shake-up of its census case legal team in a court filing Wednesday that explained that the new attorneys it’s bringing in “already have begun working on the case.”

The filing was a response to a request from the challengers that the judge block the case’s original DOJ attorneys from withdrawing without a full explanation for their exit. The Justice Department promised that the shuffle would not delay the case’s proceedings.

“Defendants do not anticipate seeking any extensions based on the substitution of new counsel, will diligently work to ensure that the substitution of counsel does not prejudice plaintiffs in any way, and intend to respond to Plaintiffs’ discovery on the Court-ordered schedule” the Justice Department said.

Discovery is underway in the Maryland case on the claim that the question was added for discriminatory reasons.

The Justice Department’s two-page filing comes after another court, in New York, blocked the Department’s change-up to their legal team in the census case there. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said Tuesday that the administration did not provide “satisfactory reasons,” as required by local rules, for the withdrawals. He ordered that if the DOJ attorneys want to try again to withdraw, they each submit affidavits explaining their reasons.

The DOJ filing in the Maryland case stops well short of providing any such detail.

The challengers had noted in their request that the Department was replacing the trial team, which came from a DOJ division that specializes in this kind of lawsuit, with lawyers from DOJ divisions that do not normally handle cases involved the census. The Department on Wednesday called the challengers’ concerns “meritless.”

“The Civil Division continues to handle this matter, and new attorneys that have been assigned are entering appearances and already have begun working on the case,” its filing said.

Rejecting the challengers’ claim that the DOJ’s withdrawal motions violated local rules, the DOJ filing also touted the attorney general’s “broad authority” to send “any officer of the Department of Justice” to defend the US government’s interest in court

Read the filing below:

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