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A federal judge late Tuesday refused to let Justice Department lawyers withdraw from a dispute over the citizenship question on the 2020 census form, in a case that continues after the Supreme Court’s ruling in late June.

Eleven lawyers from the DOJ asked Judge Jesse Furman of the U.S. district court for the Southern District of New York on Monday for permission to step down from representing the government in the dispute. Attorney General William Barr has said that given the department’s decision to press ahead on the issue, “I can understand if they’re not interested in participating in this phase.”

DOJ officials said privately that Barr acted before the lawyers could officially object to further work on the matter.

But Furman said that before lawyers can get off a case, court rules require them to explain why they wish to withdraw and that the DOJ request was “patently deficient.” That’s especially true, he said, given that legal briefs are due in a few days on whether the judge should issue an order preventing any action by the government to put the question on the form.

The case has been litigated on the premise, at the government’s insistence, that a speedy resolution “is a matter of great private and public importance,” Furman said.

His order allowed the government lawyers to resubmit their request to withdraw, provided that they offer satisfactory reasons and agree to make themselves available if needed at any future hearings. Read more

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A federal judge late Tuesday refused to let Justice Department lawyers withdraw from a dispute over the citizenship question on the 2020 census form, in a case that continues after the Supreme Court’s ruling in late June.

A federal judge late Tuesday refused to let Justice Department lawyers withdraw from a dispute over the citizenship question on the 2020 census form, in a case that continues after the Supreme Court’s ruling in late June.