The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Public Counsel, along with law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips will make opening statements today in a federal trial regarding a lawsuit that challenges the late addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census by the United States Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the City of San Jose and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and trial is being held together with a similar claim brought by the State of California. The case will be heard in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: “Secretary Ross’s decision to add the citizenship question was based on a flawed process that was exacerbated by discriminatory motivations that were concealed from the public until this litigation. Ross compelled his staff to concoct a cover story to try to legitimize this misbegotten decision, and overruled his scientific staff to achieve his goal. Through this litigation, we are fighting to preserve the integrity of the 2020 Census to help ensure a fair and accurate count of all people as required under the constitution.”
This lawsuit was filed on April 17, 2018, immediately after Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the 2020 decennial census will include a question asking the citizenship status of every respondent. The suit claims that the addition of the citizenship question will depress participation rates among immigrant communities and communities of color, resulting in a significant undercount. The lawsuit claims that the addition of the citizenship question was arbitrary and capricious, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), and challenges the question’s constitutionality under the Enumeration Clause and Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s top scientist on Wednesday insisted the bureau can get a full count of American residents during the 2020 census, despite the Trump administration’s addition of a question on citizenship.
The agency’s chief scientist, John Abowd, made the comments in testimony in federal court in New York, where a group of U.S. states, cities and civil rights groups have sued the administration to remove the question, arguing it could dissuade non-citizens from participating in the decennial census.