The Dept. of Justice late Sunday evening announced it is replacing its team of attorneys who have spent countless hours in the Trump administration’s long battle to get what some say is a racist citizenship question added to the 2020 Census.
Experts are weighing in, with one calling the move “ominous.”
“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 spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
The New York Times quoted Justin Levitt, a former senior official in the Justice Department under President Barack Obama, who said: “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.’”
Some believe what is coming down the road is the DOJ lying to the federal courts – or that it already has.
Lawyer Luppe B. Luppen, who is a noted commentator on Twitter and writer at Yahoo News, offered up this theory:
Is it possible DOJ needed to switch lawyers in the census case because they’ve had the existing team lying to the judges and justices for months about a drop-dead date for printing the census forms, among other things, and that is about to become undeniable? Just a theory.
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) July 8, 2019
Meanwhile, renowned election law expert and law and political science professor Rick Hasen weighed in quickly:
This development is ominous.
It almost certainly means the career attorneys working for the Department of Justice refused to go along with what Trump wants to do now with the citizenship question on the census. https://t.co/sWmE0Rd4Iy
— Rick Hasen (@rickhasen) July 8, 2019
Hasen was not the only one who surmised the DOJ attorneys who had argued the case decided they could no longer do so under the circumstances.
Some legal experts say the first team was thoroughly embarrassed when President Donald Trump tweeted that reports saying the administration would abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling and not add the citizenship question to the Census were “fake,” especially since those reports were official statements from the Trump administration. The first team may have “declined to continue working on the case once it became clear they were being asked to engage in lawyering that violated their duty of candor to the court,” former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said.
“Career folks likely declined to make convoluted arguments to pacify Trump given [their] ethics obligations,” she added.
“Never heard of anything like this,” law professor and former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal said on Twitter.
ThinkProgress columnist Ian Millhiser, who wrote a book on the Supreme Court, issued this wise warning:
The thing to watch for when the new team is identified is whether any career DOJ attorneys are members of the team, or if it is all political appointees. https://t.co/Ynb2tcxqzV
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) July 8, 2019
Why is this question so critical for Trump? Because it will benefit white Republican voters and possibly reduce the number of Democratic districts in the U.S. House of Representatives, by scaring minorities – especially non-citizens – from responding to the Census.
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‘I’m Not a Bigot, I Love People’: Mayor Says New LGBTQ-Inclusive Education Law ‘Is Going to Hurt People’
Why is this bigoted anti-LGBTQ mayor still allowed to teach in public schools?
Barnegat, New Jersey’s Republican mayor is once again attacking a new state law that requires schools to include in their curriculums the contributions made by LGBTQ people. Alfonso Cirulli gained condemnation nationwide after delivering a lengthy, bigoted rant in August during a township committee meeting. And now he’s back for another round.
Mayor Cirulli, who worked for years as a teacher and an administrator, is still allowed in schools, and is still teaching, according to a just-published article by NJ.com.
“I’m not a bigot, I love people,” Cirulli said in his recent interview.
That claim is false, given he called the LGBTQ community “an affront to almighty God” during that highly-publicized summer meeting.
“Sexual preference is a mindset,” Cirulli also claimed. “Don’t confuse this with racial or ethnic discrimination. There is no comparison.”
In his latest interview Cirulli falsely claims teaching students about the contributions made by members of the LGBTQ community “is going to hurt people,” and “is going to cause more problems than they say it’s going to help.”
“I’m worried about kids,” Cirulli claimed. “You’re taking young kids and you start telling them, ‘If you want to be a girl, you can be a girl, if you want to be a guy, you can be a guy.’ And you’re giving them an identity crisis.”
That’s just plain false.
There’s no video of Cirulli’s remarks this time, but during his unhinged August rant he said the “LGBTQ movement is out to crush anybody or any faith that doesn’t embrace their chosen lifestyle,” which is also false.
“For people of faith, make no mistake that this political movement is an affront to almighty God,” Cirulli said, “with the intent of completely trying to completely eradicate God’s law and the foundation that this nation was built on.”
He also called the federal Equality Act “dangerous.”
NJ.com reports Cirulli is “a former assistant principal at Pinelands Regional High School who still teaches woodshop and other classes in the district.”
It’s unclear why, given his very public remarks that may have impacted the very students he teaches, he is still allowed to do so.
DOJ Sticks Its Nose in Lawsuit Against Archdiocese That Fired Gay Teacher – And Urges Court to Rule Against Him
Bill Barr’s Dept. of Justice is spreading its tentacles far and wide. While it has every legal right to do so, most might not expect the federal government to weigh in on a case filed in a state court, even a state superior court. And yet, it has.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana and the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division have filed a “Statement of Interest” telling the Indiana Superior Court it should rule against a teacher who is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis for firing him because he is gay and married to a man.
“The Archdiocese determined that, consistent with its interpretation of Church teachings, a school within its diocesan boundaries cannot identify as Catholic and simultaneously employ a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage,” the DOJ’s statement reads. “Many may lament the Archdiocese’s determination. But the First Amendment forbids this Court from interfering with the Archdiocese’s right to expressive association, and from second-guessing the Archdiocese’s interpretation and application of Catholic law. For these reasons, this action must be dismissed.”
The question many should have is why this case? And why did the DOJ feel the need to weigh in at all?
It seems the DOJ may be laying groundwork.
Attorney Mark Joseph Stern, who writes at Slate, offered this disturbing analysis:
The DOJ argues that the high school’s First Amendment right to “expressive association” allows it to fire a gay teacher.
That reasoning isn’t limited to religious schools. It would give many other schools—and businesses—a constitutional right to discriminate. https://t.co/abu6bi7pRA
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) September 27, 2019
Duhaime’s Law Dictionary defines “expressive association” as a “group that engages in some form of public or private expression,” and pulls this quote from a legal case:
“The courts have long understood as implicit in the right to engage in activities protected by the First Amendment a corresponding right to associate with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends.”
The DOJ’s “Statement of Interest” uses the term “expressive association” twelve times.
Imagine where they might be going.
Forewarned is fair-warned.
‘Absolute Fealty at All Times’: New Report Details the Degrading Demands Trump Places on His Aides
In a report for the Washington Post on Thursday, reporters Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker outlined the grueling and “Kafkaesque” standards President Donald Trump places demands of his aides — standards that now-former National Security Adviser John Bolton failed to live up to.
“He tolerates a modicum of dissent, so long as it remains private; expects advisers to fall in line and defend his decisions; and demands absolute fealty at all times,” they wrote.
One anonymous source for the piece explained how his demanding nature is also, at times, excruciatingly paradoxical:
“There is no person that is part of the daily Trump decision-making process that can survive long term,” said a former senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “The president doesn’t like people to get good press. He doesn’t like people to get bad press. Yet he expects everyone to be relevant and important and supportive at all times. Even if a person could do all those things, the president would grow tired of anyone in his immediate orbit.”
Anthony Scaramucci described the role of Trump’s staff in particularly degrading terms. In his view, Trump wants “catatonic loyalty” and for his people to act as props. Others told the Post that Trump likes to stage disagreements between his aides and then “play emperor” and decide the winner.
Dozens of Trump aides and appointees have fallen from his grace and been ousted from the administration for failing to play the dutiful role to perfection: former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, former Chief of Staff John Kelly, and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, to name just a few.
Notably, Bolton wasn’t going to be a prop in this game. When Bolton entered the White House, it was clear to most observers — though apparently not Trump — that he was committed to enacting his vision of foreign policy, one that contrasted sharply with the president’s preferences. It seems Trump appreciated and tolerated Bolton at times, but Bolton’s goal was to manipulate the president in the end. Once even Trump realized that Bolton wasn’t just a tough-guy war-monger stage prop, but an ideologue using the president for his own purposes, he had to go.
The piece interestingly doesn’t mention the roles of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, in the White House. They seem to defy the usual standards for Trump’s aides, and he clearly doesn’t view them as disposable, like a chief of staff or a national security adviser. Being family is different.
But the piece also doesn’t address some of the outlier aides in Trump’s orbit. Why have, for example, Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller stuck around so long? How did they avoid the fate of so many others — especially when they both have gotten their fair share of bad press?
Fundamentally, though, the account rings true for the vast majority of Trump’s people. For example, consider that, in the video that sparked the “Sharpiegate” story, Trump had the acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan sitting off to the side, voiceless, acting like a prop and displaying the doctored weather map:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 4, 2019
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