Voting rights group sues Census Bureau over citizenship question

Voting rights group sues Census Bureau over citizenship question

The National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) [advocacy website], on behalf of seven residents of Maryland and Arizona, filed suit [text, pdf] on Wednesday against the US Census Bureau [official website], arguing that its last-minute decision to add a citizenship status question on the 2020 Census is unconstitutional.

The NDRC, headed by former US Attorney General Eric Holder, and the seven residents it represents, argue that the removal of non-citizens being counted in the census is a violation of the Census Clause [Art. I, sect. 2 text] of the US Constitution, and must also be set aside under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The group alleges that “[t]he Secretary’s action violates the paramount constitutional objective of the decennial census &emdash; to count every person residing in the United States, citizen and noncitizen alike.”

The suit also argues that this rationale is pretext for a partisan act “aimed at advancing the Trump
Administration’s anti-immigration political agenda, heedless of legal requirements.”

Because the population data collected through the census determines the apportionment of seats in the US House of Representatives among the states, as well as the allocation of funding for various programs, the suit argues this will result in a disproportionate undercount of persons belonging to or sharing a household with certain demographic groups, including immigrants, non-citizens, those with limited English proficiency, and individuals of Hispanic or Latino origin.

This lawsuit is just one of many regarding the 2020 Census citizenship questions and the Bureau’s preparedness. 17 states — one of which is Maryland — and 7 cities filed a lawsuit April 3 over the question, as did a number of organizations, including the NAACP in late March. [JURIST reports].

Holder’s group also sued [JURIST report] Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in February on behalf of several Wisconsin Democrats for his refusal to hold a special election to fill two vacancies in the state legislature.