Did All the Lawyers Defending Trump's Census Citizenship Question Just Quit?

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The battle over adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census seems to be getting more ridiculous by the minute. Despite the Justice Department’s announcement last week that the Census would be printed—that, in fact, it was already in the process of being printed—without a question addressing whether or not respondents were United States citizens, Trump did a tweet, and now the DOJ is back in court fighting for it. And now: the entire legal team seems to have been swapped out!

According to the New York Times, the DOJ announced on Sunday that they’ll be “shifting these matters to a new team of Civil Division lawyers going forward,” with “these matters” referring to the fight over the citizenship question. Legal experts speculated to the Times that the unprecedented reshuffling was actually due to en masse quitting, possibly because the case lacks real legal legs and is also insanely racist.

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“There is no reason they would be taken off that case unless they saw what was coming down the road and said, ‘I won’t sign my name to that,’” Justin Levitt, a former DOJ senior official under Obama, told the Times.

The Associated Press reports that the new team would include a mix of career and politically appointed attorneys, though no one’s been named yet. It’s unclear whether this shake-up will spawn yet another online tantrum from Trump, whose dedication to this particular battle is so strong he told reporters on Friday that he was considering getting the question added through executive order. Note that the Census is already costing about $15.6 billion, and delaying the Census in order to add a question as an addendum will probably tack even more onto that bill, but yeah, we don’t have money to fully fund Medicare and food assistance, sure.

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