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Jennifer Rubin: Federal Judge Discovers Ethical Stalemate at Department of Justice

We had previously suggested that the Federal Court judge in New York, seized from the census record – in which the Trump administration had been asked to find a better pretext for including the question of citizenship than the wrong question that He had given to the Supreme Court – had to understand why the judge The Ministry, after being reversed in the time allowed for printing and agreeing to leave aside the question of citizenship, exchanged one group of lawyers against another. If, and I'm only guessing, the first set of lawyers thought it was ethically forbidden to make arguments or present the facts that their superiors had informed them, then the court should be informed. We should all.

Well, US District Judge Jesse Furman intervened, refusing to release the first group of lawyers without explaining their departure. In other words, come back with a pretext, uh, a reason to get you out of a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the reason given was a pretext (that is, a false one). It's a fun in house mirror of lies.

Former Attorney Joyce White Vance tells me, "The judge had a lot of reasons to make this order; as he noted, the DOJ record was insufficient because it did not provide a "satisfactory ground" for the withdrawal that the rule requires in this situation. "Vance adds:" This is the kind of failure to comply with the rules that a judge would be annoyed, at least by the government, in a normal situation, but this motion is far from normal. . "

The Washington Post reports:

"The defendants provide no reason, let alone" satisfactory reasons "for the replacement of a board, Furman wrote. He also pointed out that the Ministry had to file the file in just three days and that it had already insisted that the file be dealt with quickly. . .

He said the ministry could rephrase his request if he gave "satisfactory reasons" for the removal of the lawyers and promised that the lawyers who had previously worked in the case would be available upon request. also asked the department to "file an affidavit provide unequivocal assurances that replacing the board will not delay the continuation of the litigation in this case (or in any future related matter). ""

Laurence Tribe, constitutional law specialist, said: "Seeing a federal court declining to play this lawless little game is one of the most reassuring signs of a center's life after all." He admits that "the ability of an Article III court to execute its will in the world is obvious: as Alexander Hamilton has said in Federalist 78, justice lacks both the power of the sword and of the power of the stock market and has neither strength nor will but simply judgment, backed by the power of public reason ". That said, "in its field, the judicial power remains supreme: not infallible, obviously, but definitive". He adds that this "seems to me to be a wise reminder that the Constitution and the laws of the United States remain the supreme law of the land." If the President and his lackey, the Attorney General without any principle, want to defy the Supreme Court of the United States. United, the lower federal courts will not make it easier for them to do the wrong charade of musical chairs. "

Now the Department of Justice and its lawyers have an interesting dilemma. The initial group of lawyers must file an affidavit – a statement under penalty of perjury – if they still want to be excused. If they give the real answer (suppose it is "I do not want to lie" or "I have standards"), the case of the Department of Justice could be broken, and the court will be able to conclude that the government acted in bad faith. No question of citizenship.

If the first team of lawyers does not want to find an excuse – which would be almost impossible for all to have the same excuse – they must continue to plead, but may refuse to present arguments or facts The prosecutor General wants them to do.

Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr hinted that the president could get around all this by issuing a decree. Umm, I do not think that will go very well, nor with the district court that felt a rat in the request of the Ministry of Justice to exchange lawyers, nor with the Supreme Court, which asked the president to propose a better, "" true "reason for the citizenship issue that actually corresponded to the factual record.

And here's the kicker: While this ethical black hole is void in Barr's department, the judge in a similar case in Maryland allows the discovery to continue. The plaintiffs believe they found the smoking gun in the newly discovered records of a deceased Republican consultant, revealing that the real objective of the issue was to reduce the number of non-whites, thereby helping the Republican party. As Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Said, It was the "Make America White Again" effort.

There are three takeaways here.

In the first place, Barr's Department of Justice is breaking its reputation with the courts, a gross mistake that could have consequences in many other cases. If the administration lies once, the thought goes, maybe it does it regularly.

Second, the reason for the citizenship issue must be so reprehensible and indefensible that the Department of Justice clings to such an extent that its own lawyers can no longer respect legal deception. He must abandon his efforts or face evidence of intentional discrimination, a reason the Supreme Court would never accept as legitimate.

And thirdly, individual acts of consciousness matter. Refusing to participate in an ethically flawed case was the right thing to do for the first group of lawyers. This could later be seen as a rare bright light in a Justice Ministry darkened by the Trump presidency. By speaking up, these lawyers may well be able to accurately count the census and thwart an approach that may rightly be considered an effort to strengthen white power. If they stick to their weapons, they will certainly have followed their oath to seek justice and uphold the Constitution.

Jennifer Rubin | The Washington Post
Jennifer Rubin | The Washington Post

Jennifer Rubin writes the reported opinion for the Washington Post.

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