WASHINGTON — The Justice Department announced Sunday night a new legal team will take over the Trump administration’s fight to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The department’s spokesperson said in a statement that the DOJ is “shifting these matters to a new team of Civil Division lawyers” and it will be revealed in filings Monday.
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.
The Trump administration has been fighting to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census — a question that hasn’t been asked since 1950. The move could impact the balance of power in states and the House of Representatives, which are based on total population. Critics say adding the question could result in minorities being undercounted.
The Supreme Court recently ruled the evidence did not back up the claims of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Justice Department lawyers that the question is needed to better enforce voting rights.