|Trump and fellow liar, Wilbur Ross.|
In the legal realm, attorneys on a litigation case can withdraw and be replaced only under limited situations and such withdrawal requires court approval. Among these situations are (i) a private party litigant elects to hire new legal counsel, (ii) the client has failed and refused to pay legitimate legal fees of its legal counsel, and (iii) legal counsel believes the client is attempting to perpetrate a fraud on the court. In the case of the lawsuit brought by the Trump DOJ seeking to force a citizenship question on the 2020 census - which the U.S. Supreme Court remanded back to the lower court while noting the alleged need for the question was contrived - the first two situations do not apply. Now, with a federal judge refusing to allow the Trump DOJ to replace it legal team without explanation, some are conjecturing that the third situation may be what is really going on. Stated another way, some commentators suspect the original DOJ legal team may be seeking to withdraw because the Trump regime is pressuring the lawyers to lie and defraud the court. In addition to seeking to under count non-whites in the census, Trump appears to be playing to his racist base. As prior post noted, the language directly from the U.S. Constitution mandating the census says NOTHING about citizenship. It mandates a count of ALL people within the boundaries of the nation. Numerous news outlets are reporting on the court's refusal to grant the request to replace the entire original legal team. Here is are highlights from the Washington Post:
A federal judge in New York on Tuesday denied a bid from the Justice Department to replace the team of lawyers on the case about the census citizenship question, writing that its request to do so was “patently deficient.”The department had earlier this week announced its intention to swap out the legal team on the case, without saying exactly why.
A person familiar with the matter said the decision was driven in part by frustration among some of the career lawyers who had been assigned to the case about how it was being handled, though the department wanted to replace those in both career and political positions.
But U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman denied the formal, legal bid to do so.
“Defendants provide no reasons, let alone ‘satisfactory reasons,’ for the substitution of counsel,” Furman wrote. He also noted that a filing in the case was due from the department in just three days, and that the department had previously pushed for the matter to be moved along quickly.
“If anything, that urgency — and the need for efficient judicial proceedings — has only grown since that time,” Furman wrote.
He said the department could refile its request, if it gave “satisfactory reasons” for the attorneys’ withdrawal and promises that the attorneys who had worked the case previously would be available upon request. The judge also asked the department to “file an affidavit providing unequivocal assurances that the substitution of counsel will not delay further litigation of this case (or any future related case).”
The judge’s decision was the latest development in the continuing effort by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
The Justice and Commerce departments then effectively conceded defeat — but Trump soon ordered the lawyers to do an about-face and come up with ways to keep the fight alive.
Furman’s move could force the Justice Department to expose more of its messy, internal debates over the census case. Those attorneys who object to the handling of it might proceed without signing briefs, serving up a regular, public reminder of how fraught the case has become internally. The department might also choose to lay out more detailed reasons for wanting the attorneys off in a subsequent request.
New York Attorney General Letitia James took a tacit swipe at Trump in reacting to the ruling. “Despite the president attempting to fire his lawyers, this is not an episode of ‘The Apprentice.’ Judge Furman denied his request and required the administration to comply with the rules regarding substitution of counsel, ” said James, in a reference to Trump’s onetime television show.
Justin Levitt, an election law professor at Loyola Law School who was a deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division from 2015 to 2017, said he had never seen the department swap out an entire team in the middle of litigating a case.
The move was particularly odd given that the previous team was composed of experts in administrative procedure who were steeped in the details of the census litigation, he said. The new team, pulled together from the department’s consumer protection, civil fraud, and office of immigration litigation components, is “a truly random assortment,” he said.
Intensifying the political battle, House Democrats threatened to block funding for government efforts to ask about citizenship status as the White House continued to ponder an executive order to force the issue.
“I have no intention of allowing this flagrant waste of money,” Rep. José E. Serrano (D-N.Y.), who leads the House panel overseeing funding for the Commerce and Justice departments, said in a statement. “I once again urge the Trump administration to give up this fight and allow for a depoliticized and accurate census, as we always have.”
A spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee confirmed Democrats would seek to block taxpayer money from funding any efforts by the Trump administration to ask about citizenship in next year’s survey “if the issue has not been rendered moot by the courts.”