On Sunday night the Department of Justice announced that it has a new legal team to fight the census battle unfolding in the court. The Trump Administration is being sued by special interest groups for including a question on the 2020 census asking about the respondents citizenship status. The DoJ said the agency is “shifting these matters to a new team of Civil Division lawyers.”
The spokesperson did not give a reason for the change. Officials within the Civil Division’s Federal Programs Branch had been lead on the census case up until now, but they are being replaced by a combination of career and political officials from the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, a Justice official said.
“Since these cases began, the lawyers representing the United States in these cases have given countless hours to defending the Commerce Department and have consistently demonstrated the highest professionalism, integrity, and skill inside and outside the courtroom,” DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
“The Attorney General appreciates that service, thanks them for their work on these important matters, and is confident that the new team will carry on in the same exemplary fashion as the cases progress,” the statement continues.
Ken Cuccinelli, the Acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, said on Fox News Sunday that he thinks the question will end up on the census. “I do think so. I think the president has expressed determination.”
Regarding the Supreme Court decision coming from Chief Justice John Roberts, Cuccinelli explained, “They said that they didn’t appreciate the process by which it came forward the first time. The president is determined to fix that and to have it roll forward in the 2020 Census.”
Reuters worries that all this buzz about the census and the citizenship question could scare off illegal immigrants from responding to the forms resulting in
Constant media coverage linking citizenship and census forms could scare undocumented immigrants away from responding and rally U.S. President Donald Trump’s base to participate, they said. That, in turn, would help redraw voting districts across the country in favor of his Republican party, encouraging the president to pursue a legal battle that he has little chance of winning.
“Even if the question is (taken) off, if people are tweeting as if it may be a real possibility, it continues to raise fears and depress the count,” said Thomas Wolf, a lawyer who focuses on census issues at the Brennan Center for Justice.
However, Reuters reveals more than halfway through their story: “A Reuters poll earlier this year also showed 66% of Americans support its inclusion.”
Image from Getty Images.