Civil Rights Groups, Civic Organizations, and Local Governments Sue to Protect the Census Timeline

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United States Census Bureau logo. (PRNewsFoto/U.S. Census Bureau)

SAN JOSE—The League of Women Voters of the United States, the National Urban League, Black Alliance for Immigration, Harris County, TX, the City of Los Angeles, California, City of Salinas, California, City of San Jose, California, and Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia of the Harris County Commissioners Court filed a lawsuit Aug. 18, challenging the federal government’s unconstitutional decision to sacrifice the accuracy of the 2020 Census by abruptly and inexplicably rushing the decennial enumeration to a close amid a national public health emergency. 

“The government’s forcing the Census timeline back to September 30 fails to consider the indisputable impact COVID-19 had on this important process and is another attempt to obstruct full enumeration of America’s people,” said Dr. Deborah Turner, president of the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “States and municipalities rely on an accurate Census count to ensure adequate funding of basic necessities for all Americans: critical infrastructure, schools, hospitals, social services. COVID presents a severe disruption to this vital counting process, and our government should be prioritizing plans that allow the Census Bureau to finish their work, not making last-minute changes designed to inhibit the process.”

Due to the pandemic, the Census requested additional time to complete counting until Oct. 31 of this year, but the new timeline moves that end date up to Sept. 30. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the country this spring, the Census Bureau introduced a contingency plan that accounted both for the difficulties of census-taking during a pandemic and the Bureau’s constitutional and statutory obligation to achieve a fair and accurate count. But, on Aug. 3, the Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau suddenly and mysteriously reversed the Bureau’s contingency plan in favor of a new one.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Brennan Center for Justice, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Latham & Watkins, LLP, the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney, the Office of the Salinas City Attorney, and Public Counsel.

“The Trump administration’s order shortening the time to complete the Census from October 31 to September 30th is yet another of this administration’s rogue and racist decisions intended to deprive Black communities of resources and execute a redistricting scheme that supports and perpetuates white supremacy,” said Nana Gyamfi, Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration “The extension was granted in recognition of COVID-19 and its impact on outreach and capacity to get an accurate count. This manipulative order to shorten the time will result in a significant undercount of Black folks, including Black immigrants. We will continue to make sure our community members are counted in the census even as we oppose this latest attack by this administration.”

“We’re suing to block the Trump Administration from unconstitutionally abandoning a plan to obtain an accurate census in the midst of a devastating pandemic,” said Mike Feuer, Los Angeles City Attorney, Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney “From political representation to crucial public funding, every L.A. resident has so much riding on a full, fair, and complete count.  The administration’s abrupt, inexplicable, and unlawful reversal would harm Angelenos for the next decade.  It must not stand.”

National Urban League v. Ross was filed in US District Court in the Northern District of California. Self-response to the Census remains open at My2020Census.gov.

Read this press release online here. https://www.lwv.org/newsroom/press-releases/civil-rights-groups-civic-organizations-and-local-governments-sue-protect?utm_source=PressRelease&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=08182020

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