A New York judge says the Justice Department can't change lawyers so late in the dispute over whether to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
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Judge Jesse Furman ruled Tuesday, saying lawyers must cite satisfactory reasons for withdrawing.
Furman said the urgency to resolve legal claims in the case and the need for efficient judicial proceedings had only grown.
The Justice Department sought to change its lawyers after the Supreme Court barred the inclusion of the question, at least temporarily.
The Justice Department formally asked Furman Monday to let them switch lawyers after an embarrassing episode last week when lawyers seemed to be giving up the legal fight as President Donald Trump vowed to keep trying to include the question on the census.
The Justice Department declined comment.