As part of the ongoing litigation over the citizenship question (see our previous coverage here), Judge Furman today denied a request by 11 Department of Justice attorneys (some of whom had worked on the case since 2018) to withdraw from the case. According to Judge Furman, the requirements of Local Rule 4.1 had not been met, citing in part the Department of Justice’s own urgency in seeking a resolution of the issue ahead of the 2020 census:
Defendants’ motion is patently deficient (except as to [two attorneys] who have left the Department of Justice and the Civil Division, respectively). Defendants provide no reasons, let alone “satisfactory reasons,” for the substitution of counsel. And as to the second factor, Defendants’ mere “expect[ation] that withdrawal of current counsel will [not] cause any disruption” is not good enough, particularly given the circumstances of this case: Defendants’ opposition to Plaintiffs’ most recent motion is due in just three days; Defendants’ opposition to Plaintiffs’ anticipated motion for sanctions is due later this month; in event that Defendants seek to add the citizenship question to the 2020 census questionnaire based upon a “new rationale,” time would plainly be of the essence in any further litigation relating to that decision . As this Court observed many months ago, this case has been litigated on the premise — based “in no small part” on Defendants’ own “insist[ence]” — that the speedy resolution of Plaintiffs’ claims is a matter of great private and public importance. If anything, that urgency — and the need for efficient judicial proceedings — has only grown since that time.