CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — For all the fiery debate aroused by public memorials to the Confederacy, a lawsuit seeking to block this city from removing statues of two Southern Civil War generals led to dry courtroom arguments Friday over obscure provisions of Virginia law, with a judge declining to decide whether to throw out the legal challenge.

One of the statues, of Robert E. Lee, has stood in a city park for 93 years and was the focal point of violent clashes last month involving hundreds of white supremacist demonstrators and counterprotesters. The other statue, of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, is on public land nearby.

Together they have become the latest epicenter in a national debate over the propriety of civic monuments honoring the Confederacy and how the history of the Old South should be interpreted.

Several plaintiffs, including the Virginia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, sued Charlottesville in March, shortly after the City Council decided, by a 3-to-2 vote, to remove the two hulking bronze sculptures. On Friday, Judge Richard Moore, of Charlottesville Circuit Court, listened as a lawyer for the city argued the lawsuit should be dismissed.

About a hundred spectators crowded into Moore’s courtroom, anticipating definitive action by the judge. Moore said he hopes to issue a ruling in two to three weeks, “but that might be overly optimistic.”

One of the plaintiffs, B. Frank Earnest, referring to his many Confederate-soldier ancestors, said in an interview, “this is all about family.”

To Northerners in the 1860s, he said, the Civil War, “was like Afghanistan,” meaning a far-off conflict, while to Southerners, “it was about defending our towns, our homes.”

During a break in the hearing, glancing across the courtroom at Lisa Robertson, the lawyer handling the case for the city, Earnest said, “This is about punishing us for our ancestors.”

Robertson and her boss, City Attorney S. Craig Brown, declined to comment.

No matter the outcome of Friday’s legal arguments, the proceeding is unlikely to be the final round in the fight about the statues.

If Moore sides with the city and throws out the lawsuit, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and its co-plaintiffs, including a descendant of the Lee sculptor, could ask a state appeals court to review the ruling. In that event, lawyers said, Charlottesville might be barred from removing the statues during the appeal, although it is possible a higher court would decline to hear the case.

If Moore rejects the city’s motion to dismiss the matter, a date could be set for a trial before the judge, perhaps weeks or months from now.

Opponents of Confederate memorials across the South point out that most were installed not immediately after the Civil War but in the late 1800s and early 20th century, amid the rise of Jim Crow laws and a post-Reconstruction resurgence in anti-black violence.They argue the monuments amounted to revisionist history, an effort to reassert white supremacy and give an aura of nobility and heroism to the long-lost secessionist cause.

Charlottesville’s Jackson statue was erected in 1921, and the Lee statue went up three years later.