The Trump administration’s attempt to undermine the 2020 Census began in 2018 when it announced it would add a citizenship question to the decennial count. Since then, the administration has repeatedly sought to thwart the Constitution’s required count of every person. Below is a list of significant dates in two lawsuits filed by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC) on behalf of groups seeking to ensure a full count, including action to guarantee the inclusion of undocumented immigrants for purposes of apportionment.
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, 2019: 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: 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 a July 1, 2019 hearing for the government to state how it plans to move 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 a motion that allows the court to review its earlier decision on the intentional discrimination and civil conspiracy claims.
July 11, 2019: Trump issues an executive order directing all federal agencies to share information about citizenship status with the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau is instructed to then share that information, known as Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) data, with states that plan to exclude non-citizens from the total population counts used to draw new redistricting plans.
July 17, 2019: 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, allowing it to act quickly should the Trump administration violate the order.
September 13, 2019: MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC file a federal lawsuit La Unión Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) v. Ross or LUPE II challenging the Trump administration’s plan to collect and provide incomplete citizenship data to some states for purposes of redistricting. The suit says the plan is unconstitutional and a racially discriminatory scheme intended to deprive Latinos and non-citizens of equal representation. Federal District Judge for the District of Maryland, Paula Xinis is assigned.
July 21, 2020: Trump issues a presidential memorandum setting out a plan to remove undocumented immigrants from the apportionment numbers he delivers to Congress, in violation of the Constitution’s required count of “all persons’ living in the U.S.
August 3, 2020: Already delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau abruptly announces it will cut short by a month efforts to count in-person unresponsive households in order to meet the end of the year deadline.
August 12, 2020: MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC expand their challenge in LUPE II to include the presidential memorandum and the Census Bureau’s plan to end the count a month earlier than scheduled.
August 17, 2020: Judge Xinis requests a three-judge panel to hear LUPE II because it challenges the constitutionality of the drawing of Congressional seats.
August 26, 2020: Judge Pamela A. Harris, United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit, and Judge Ellen L. Hollander, U.S. District Judge for the District of Maryland, are appointed to a three-judge panel with Judge Xinis to hear LUPE II.
September 1, 2020: MALDEF and Advancing Justice|AAJC ask the federal court to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the Trump administration from ending the 2020 Census count more than a month early.
September 18, 2020: MALDEF and Advancing Justice|AAJC present oral argument in favor of a temporary restraining order to stop the administration from ending the Census count early by October 1.
October 13, 2020: The United States Supreme Court overturns a Northern California district court’s preliminary injunction in a similar, but unrelated, case that required the government to continue counting through October 31. The decision by the Supreme Court allows the Census Bureau to cease counting on October 15.
October 14, 2020: Following the Supreme Court’s decision in the California case, the three-judge panel in Maryland denies the Sept. 1 request from MALDEF and Advancing Justice| AAJC seeking a TRO.