The 2020 Census is fast becoming one of the most litigated, even before the actual enumeration has started. Six lawsuits over the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 questionnaire are currently pending before federal courts in California, Maryland and New York. Also pending before a Maryland federal court is a case alleging that the federal Commerce Department’s Census Bureau is inadequately prepared to conduct the 2020 Census due to delayed program tests, insufficient funding and staff shortages, likely resulting in severe undercount of minorities. In an Alabama federal court, that state’s attorney general and a member of Congress are challenging the Census Bureau’s decision to include all U.S. residents in the numbers used for congressional apportionment. Two of the citizenship question cases are before New York Southern District Federal Judge Jesse Furman. Both are on fast tracks, with trials expected by late October or early November (unless Judge Furman grants the U.S. government’s motion to dismiss the case, which he said could come sometime in July).
In the first case, New York, joined by sixteen states, seven cities, and the United States Conference of Mayors, alleges that the citizenship question is unconstitutional for undermining the census count with a question many people fearful of government won’t answer. The case also argues that the Commerce Department violated the federal Administrative Procedures Act.
In the second New York case, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) raises the same constitutional claims as well as a claim that the Commerce Department acted with ill intent to add the citizenship question which threatens census accuracy and worsens census undercounting of minority communities. The two cases have been consolidated for purposes of scheduling and pretrial discovery.