The US Department of Justice (DOJ) will hand over matters related to the upcoming 2020 US census, including the issue of the embattled citizenship question, to a new group of lawyers, The Hill reported Sunday.
“As will be reflected in filings tomorrow in the census-related cases, the Department of Justice is shifting these matters to a new team of Civil Division lawyers going forward," DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement on Sunday.
The DOJ thanked the old team for “countless hours” defending the Commerce Department and praised them for what was described as “the highest professionalism, integrity, and skill inside and outside the courtroom.”
"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,” Kupec added.
The announcement comes days after the DOJ announced that it would explore legal methods of including the citizenship inquiry in the upcoming questionnaire. Earlier, the US Supreme Court blocked the inclusion of the question on the grounds that the rationale presented by the Trump administration was unsatisfactory, but allowed the agency time to come up with a better explanation.
According to the rationale presented by the Trump administration, the citizenship question is necessary to enforce the Voting Rights Act, which is explained as fighting discrimination during the voting process.
The DOJ last-moment decision to keep fighting for the inclusion came one day after the Commerce Department announced that it had begun printing copies of the questionnaire while nothing that the question had been excluded.
On Friday, Trump confirmed that the White House is considering “four of five” options, including a presidential executive order, in a bid to force the inclusion of the controversial question into the upcoming 2020 census questionnaire.