Calling it a “dark chapter” in Justice Department history, a government lawyer on Tuesday urged a federal judge in Washington to throw out a suit that alleges the department improperly used politics in deciding whether to hire summer law interns and prospective honors program lawyers.

The eight named plaintiffs, who purportedly represent a class of hundreds of similarly situated plaintiffs, maintain Justice based hiring decisions on the candidates’ liberal political and professional affiliations. Justice officials found and printed information from web sites about the candidates. Hundreds of applicants were turned down in 2002 and 2006 by political appointees. A motion for class certification is pending.