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Case Name NAACP v. Bureau of the Census PB-MD-0004
Docket / Court 8:18-cv-00891-PWG ( D. Md. )
State/Territory Maryland
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Take Care
Attorney Organization NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Case Summary
On March 28, 2018 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Prince George's County filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Maryland. Plaintiffs sued the U.S. Census Bureau, Secretary of Commerce, and President and the United States for "conspicuous neglect" ... read more >
On March 28, 2018 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Prince George's County filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Maryland. Plaintiffs sued the U.S. Census Bureau, Secretary of Commerce, and President and the United States for "conspicuous neglect" of their duty to ensure an "actual enumeration" through the Census as per Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

Plaintiffs claim that this neglect has led to undercounting in the past, and will lead to higher undercounting, particularly of disadvantaged and minority populations in the 2020 Census. Prince George's County alleged it has been the victim of large undercounting of their population by 1.9% in 2000 and 2.3% in 2010. These undercounts impacted the distribution of public funds, determined representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, and impacted redistricting. Plaintiffs claimed that the 2010 Census undercounted African Americans by roughly 1.5 million while overcounting home owners and non-hispanic whites.

Due to Prince George's County's demographics and history of being undercounted in the Census, these detrimental effects are likely to be exacerbated for the county due to the lack of staff, leadership, design flaws, and underfunding of the Census. For example, whereas the budget for the Census has typically grown with each successive Census, the budget for the 2020 Census has gone down from $4.2 billion in 2010 to $3.9 billion. Moreover, plaintiffs claim that the plan to administer more of the Census digitally will lead to undercounting for areas will little broadband access as well as open the Census to cyber attacks.

Plaintiffs requested the court to declare that defendants have an obligation to administer a fair and accurate census and enjoin them from violating that duty. Moreover, plaintiffs request that the court issue an injunction requiring the government to propose and implement a policy that ensures a hard count subject to court monitoring. The case was assigned to Judge Paul W. Grimm.

The plaintiffs subsequently filed two amended complaints adding the parties’ addresses. The defendants filed a motion dismiss on July 13, 2018, arguing the plaintiffs lacked standing, the claim was not ripe, the decision constituted a political question beyond judicial review, and that the Enumeration Clause required only that the defendants conduct a person-by-person headcount of the population. The plaintiffs responded a month later. They argued they had standing, citing the specific injury of a “severe differential undercount” resulting in vote dilution a loss of federal funding. On ripeness, the plaintiffs claimed to be at imminent risk of harm, and waiting until the census began would leave them without remedy. They cited decades of census-related litigation to negate the argument that the defendants had unreviewable discretion in conducting the census. Finally, the plaintiffs claimed the defendants were inventing an overly restrictive Enumeration Clause standard. In November, the plaintiffs submitted a supplemental notice of Judge Hazel’s recent decision in La Unión del Pueblo Entero v. Ross, rejecting a similar argument on a motion to dismiss.

The court set a hearing for January 14, 2019, however, the defendants moved to continue the hearing in light of the government shutdown and resulting lapse in appropriations. The plaintiffs opposed the motion, as the census count would occur in just over a year, and other courts had refused to delay ongoing census litigation for the same reason. They argued the shutdown demonstrated a disruption to the defendants census preparations, bolstering the plaintiffs argument that the census will produce inaccurate results. The court denied the motion to continue the hearing, finding the case involved the protection of property, the shutdown supported the plaintiff’s argument that the defendants will not be prepared to conduct an accurate census in 2020, and this motion has been denied in similar census cases also pending.

The court issued its opinion on January 29, 2019 granting and denying in part the motion to dismiss. 2019 WL 355743. The court noted this case was unique from the other pending census litigation, as this suit did not include a claim under the Administrative Procedure Act. Instead, this case challenged the agency’s action before it had finalized the 2020 Census preparations. The court thus denied without prejudice the request for injunctive relief, finding this claim not yet ripe because preparations were ongoing. However, the court recognized the potential for declaratory relief to ensure sufficient funds for census preparations, found that the plaintiffs had standing on this claim, and allowed this claim to proceed.

On February 28, the court granted and denied in part the plaintiff’s letter to file an amended complaint. While the Administrative Procedure Act claims would not have been futile, the court found the Enumeration Clause claim was still unripe. The court thus permitted the plaintiffs to add the Administrative Procedure Act claims and factual developments without reinstating the Enumeration Clause claims. The court also permitted the defendants to file a motion to dismiss on the new claims.

The parties are engaged in discovery and there has been no further activity as of March 29, 2019.

Will McCartney - 04/05/2018
Erica Lignell - 03/29/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Funding
Government Services (specify)
Public assistance grants
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Record-keeping
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
City/County Plaintiff
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) President of the United States
U.S. Census Bureau
Plaintiff Description NAACP, Prince George County, and several of its residents.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PB-CA-0049 : California v. Ross (N.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Calendar of Upcoming Deadlines and Hearings for Census 2020 Cases
Date: Mar. 29, 2019
(Brennan Center for Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
8:18-cv-891 (D. Md.)
PB-MD-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/01/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-MD-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/28/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 38] (2018 WL 6046270)
PB-MD-0004-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/14/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 43]
PB-MD-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/13/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter Order Denying Motion to Continue [ECF# 55] (D. Md.)
PB-MD-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/07/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order Dismissing Claims Against Pres. Trump [ECF# 64] (2019 WL 355743) (D. Md.)
PB-MD-0004-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/29/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend in Part [ECF# 76] (D. Md.)
PB-MD-0004-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/28/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Grimm, Paul William (D. Md.) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-0004 | PB-MD-0004-0005 | PB-MD-0004-0006 | PB-MD-0004-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alderdice, Jacob (New York) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-0001 | PB-MD-0004-0002 | PB-MD-0004-9000
Alter, Benjamin Dylan (New York) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-9000
Burbank, Renee (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-0002 | PB-MD-0004-9000
Craine, Khyla Danielle (Maryland) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-0002 | PB-MD-0004-9000
Creelan, Jeremy (New York) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-0002 | PB-MD-0004-9000
Diaz, Jonathan (New York) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-0001 | PB-MD-0004-0002 | PB-MD-0004-9000
Kohlmann, Susan J. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-0001 | PB-MD-0004-0002 | PB-MD-0004-9000
Wishnie, Michael J. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-0001 | PB-MD-0004-0002 | PB-MD-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bailey, Kate (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-0003
Coyle, Garrett Joseph (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-0003
Ehrlich, Stephen (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-0003 | PB-MD-0004-9000
Federighi, Carol (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0004-0003 | PB-MD-0004-9000

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