In 2018, the Trump administration announced it would add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census form that goes to every household in the country for the first time since 1950. MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC) quickly filed suit to stop the question on behalf of Latino and Asian American individuals, immigrant individuals, Native Americans, social service non-profits, state legislative associations, civil rights groups, voting rights organizations, and community partnerships that would be forced to divert resources to combat a potential severe undercount in their respective communities. Following is a list of significant dates in the case:
March 26, 2018: Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announces the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, the first inclusion of such a question since 1950.
May 31, 2018: MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC challenge the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question in federal court, arguing it is motivated by racial animus, and violates the Enumeration Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Administration Procedure Act (APA). The case, La Unión Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) v. Ross, is filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
July 9, 2018: The lawsuit is amended to include an additional claim that the citizenship question was the product of a conspiracy by Donald Trump, former White House advisor Steve Bannon, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and other cabinet members and government officials to violate the civil rights of communities of color. It is the first explicit claim of a conspiracy to deprive minorities of their constitutional rights to equal representation and fair allocation of federal funds by adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
Nov. 9, 2018: U.S. District Court Judge George J. Hazel denies the Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss Lupe v. Ross.
Dec. 12, 2018: La Unión Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) v. Ross is consolidated with another suit filed in Maryland, Kravitz v. United States Department of Commerce.
Dec. 19, 2018: Judge Hazel rejects the Trump administration’s motion for summary judgment of MALDEF’s lawsuit.
January 22, 2019: Trial begins in a Maryland federal court in Kravitz v. United States Department of Commerce.
April 5, 2019: Judge Hazel rules that the Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship question violates the APA and the Enumeration Clause.
April 8, 2019: The Trump administration appeals Judge Hazel’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
April 16, 2019: MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC file a cross-appeal with the Fourth Circuit seeking review of Judge Hazel’s denial of the claim that the Trump administration’s motive for the citizenship question was racially discriminatory.
May 29, 2019: The Fourth Circuit agrees to expedite an appeal filed by MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC.
May 30, 2019: The New York Times publishes a story revealing that now-deceased Republican redistricting strategist Thomas B. Hofeller’s computer hard drives show that he worked with the Trump administration, the Trump transition team, and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to include a citizenship question as a way to unlawfully benefit some groups.
June 3, 2019: MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC file a motion asking Judge Hazel to reconsider whether the Trump administration conspired with Hofeller and others to intentionally discriminate against Latinos and immigrants of color when they added the citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
June 18, 2019: MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC to present oral argument before Judge Hazel asking him to reconsider whether new evidence is relevant to the denial of the claim that the Trump administration sought to intentionally discriminate against Latinos and immigrants of color when it added a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
June 19, 2019: In a response to a request from MALDEF, Judge Hazel issues an order noting that new evidence “raises a substantial issue” regarding whether the Trump administration’s aim for adding the citizenship request was intentionally discriminatory.
June 20, 2019: MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC file a motion in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals requesting that the case be sent back to the district court based on Hazel’s ruling.
June 24, 2019: Judge Hazel releases his full opinion saying of the new evidence, “As more puzzle pieces are placed on the mat, a disturbing picture of the decisionmakers’ motives takes shape.”
June 25: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District remands Kravitz v. United States Department of Commerce back to the U.S. District Court so Judge Hazel can consider whether newly-discovered evidence shows racial discrimination was the motive behind adding a citizenship question. Within hours, the Justice Department sends a letter to the U.S. Supreme Court asking that the justices include MALDEF’s ongoing appeal when it rules on Department of Commerce, et al v. New York, even though the Court has not been briefed on the Maryland case.
June 26, 2019: MALDEF files a request for injunctive relief in the U.S. District Court , based on evidence of intentional discrimination and conspiracy
June 27, 2019: The U.S. Supreme Court issues its opinion in Department of Commerce, et al v. New York, affirming the district court’s ruling in part, holding that Secretary Ross’s stated reason for adding the question was pretext. The Court further held that Secretary Ross was required by the Administrative Procedures Act to provide the actual rationale for adding the question. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the New York district court to further proceedings consistent with its holding.
June 27, 2019: Hearing – District Court Maryland. MALDEF asks the court to hold its motion for preliminary injunction until the government represents that it intends to proceed with the 2020 Census without a citizenship question. The Court sets another hearing for July 1, 2019, to hear from the government as to its plans moving forward.
July 2, 2019: The Trump administration announces it will send the 2020 Census forms to the printer without the citizenship question. MALDEF, in a hearing with Judge Hazel, requests a stipulation confirming that the decision is final and irreversible for the 2020 Census.
July 3, 2019: The Trump administration tells Judge Hazel in a telephonic hearing that they have been ordered to try to “examine whether there is a path forward, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision, that would allow us (the government) to include the citizenship question on the census.” Judge Hazel sets a deadline for the government to return with a commitment to proceed without a citizenship question, or a scheduling plan for discovery and further hearing on MALDEF’s intentional discrimination and conspiracy claims.
July 5, 2019: Judge Hazel grants MALDEF’s request to move forward with discovery in our rule 60(b) motion that allows the court to review its earlier decision on the intentional discrimination and civil conspiracy claims.
July 17, 2019: Following Donald J. Trump’s capitulation in his fight for a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, Judge Hazel issues an order permanently barring Commerce Secretary Ross, the Census Bureau director and staff of the bureau and Commerce Department from including the question on the Census, delaying printing of the Census forms to allow for the question or otherwise inquiring about citizenship as part of the 2020 Census process. The court retains jurisdiction so that it will be able to act quickly should the Trump administration violate the order.