LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Supreme Court today required the Trump administration to go back and provide an adequate public justification for adding a citizenship question to Census 2020.
The ruling calls into serious doubt whether the citizenship question can remain, especially because a meritorious claim of unconstitutional racial intent moves forward in MALDEF’s challenge in Maryland federal court.
MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC) sued the administration and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in May 2018 on behalf Latino and Asian American 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.
In addition to a successful claim under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) like the one the Supreme Court ruled upon today, the lawsuit included the unique allegation that the Trump administration officials and others intentionally conspired to deprive racial minorities of their constitutional rights by adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. A federal judge denied our intentional discrimination claim. MALDEF appealed that ruling, arguing that the court erred because its own findings of fact as a matter of law compel the conclusion that the administration engaged in intentional discrimination. That case is currently in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The district court is also reviewing its earlier denial of the conspiracy claim following new evidence presented to the court this month.
Please attribute the following response to the Court’s decision to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF:
“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied to Congress and the public about the reasons he chose to add an unwarranted citizenship question to Census 2020, and he now must try, in very short order, to fix his mess. This ruling vindicates the legal victory in MALDEF’s case in Maryland on the issue of pretext under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). It is far from clear that Ross, accomplished prevaricator that he is, can put forward a legitimate explanation for his biased actions.
“At the same time, today’s Supreme Court decision permits our live, ongoing claim — that the Trump administration intentionally discriminated against the Latino community in violation of the Constitution — to move forward to prevent the citizenship question from staying on Census 2020. We will be immediately pursuing that claim in Maryland federal District Court and in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, confident that the increasingly clear picture of conspired racial discrimination will prevail in removing any doubt about the impropriety of the late-added citizenship query.”
Read a Census Lawsuit Timeline HERE.