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Second judge blocks Justice Department request to change lawyers in census case

Attorney General William Barr testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "The Justice Department's investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 1, 2019.
Clodagh Kilcoyne | Reuters

A second judge has denied a request from the Justice Department to switch up the legal team fighting to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

The latest order came Wednesday in Maryland.

In a separate case, a federal judge in New York said Tuesday the Justice Department couldn't change lawyers so late in the dispute without giving satisfactory reasons.

The rulings deal a significant blow to the department and Attorney General William Barr, who had personally approved changing up the team.

The Supreme Court has barred including a citizenship question, at least temporarily.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the judge's decision.

In a third case, a judge in San Francisco hasn't yet agreed to allow the Justice Department to replace its legal team.

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Key Points
  • A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a request from the Justice Department to replace some of the lawyers assigned to a lawsuit blocking the government from including a citizenship question on the 2020 census.
  • The DOJ previously said that a new team of attorneys would take over the case, but did not specify a reason for the change.
  • "The DOJ's motion to withdraw specific attorneys is 'patently insufficient,'" Judge Jesse Furman wrote. "Defendants provide no reason, let alone 'satisfactory reasons' for the substitution of counsel."