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: