Judge: DOJ lawyers on census must stay

NEW YORK • The Justice Department can’t replace nine lawyers so late in the dispute over whether to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census without explaining why, a judge said Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman, who earlier this year ruled against adding the citizenship question, put the brakes on the government’s plans a day after he was given a three-paragraph notification by the Justice Department along with a prediction that the replacement of lawyers won’t “cause any disruption in this matter.”

The judge said local rules for federal courts in New York City require that any attorney requesting to leave a case provide satisfactory reasons for withdrawing. The judge must then decide what impact a lawyer’s withdrawal will have on proceedings.

Clerk challenges N.Y. immigrant licenses

ALBANY, N.Y. • A county clerk in western New York has filed a lawsuit challenging a new state law authorizing driver’s licenses for immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns’ challenge, filed late Monday in federal court, seeks an injunction blocking the law while its constitutionality is reviewed.

Clerks in many other upstate counties have expressed similar concerns about the law, and clerks in Rensselaer, Niagara and Allegany have joined Erie in saying they won’t follow it.

The lawsuit names Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Attorney General Letitia James, both Democrats, as defendants in their official capacities, along with the commissioner of the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Twelve states already have similar laws, which supporters say allow immigrants to get to work, raise children and go about their daily lives.

Steyer to run after

saying he wouldn’t

WASHINGTON • Tom Steyer, the billionaire investor and activist, said Tuesday he’s joining the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, reversing course after deciding earlier this year that he would forgo a run.

Steyer, 62, is one of the most visible and deep-pocketed liberals advocating for President Trump’s impeachment. He surprised many Democrats in January when he traveled to Iowa, home to the nation’s first presidential caucus, to declare he would focus entirely on the impeachment effort instead of running. Since then, Steyer, of California, has said he’s grown frustrated at the pace at which the Democratic-controlled House is approaching Trump.

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