Wednesday, September 23, 2020
There are two significant census lawsuits working their way through the courts. Both turn largely on timing.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to expedite consideration of a federal court’s decision barring the government from excluding undocumented immigrants from the census count that is used to apportion Congressional seats among the states. The challenge brought by a coalition of states led the three-judge panel in New York to declare Trump’s July 21 memorandum on the matter “an unlawful exercise of the authority granted to the President. The court had blocked the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau from including information about the number of undocumented immigrants in their reports to the president after this year’s decennial census is completed. In its appeal of the decision, the Trump administration requested the court resolve the case before Dec. 31, when the Commerce Department must report census data to the president. (The Washington Post summarizes the legal dispute and reactions; Law360 posts links to the court filings. There are at least six cases in four districts challenging the Memorandum.)
The self-imposed deadline is significant because it is tied up in the second major census lawsuit concerning the Trump administration's decision to wrap up counting by September 30, ahead of the October 31 timeline proposed by the Census Bureau following COVID-19 and other delays. A federal court in California has been reviewing the timeline case, with a parallel case in hearings in Maryland. NPR reporting has unveiled documentary evidence of pressure from the Trump Administration on Census Bureau officials to expedite the timeline that has, in turn, triggered an Inspector General investigation within the Department of Commerce.