University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name San Jose v. Ross PB-CA-0051
Docket / Court 3:18-cv-02279 ( N.D. Cal. )
Additional Docket(s) 18-1214  [ 18-1214 ]  U.S. Supreme Court
19-15457  [ 19-15457 ]  Federal Court of Appeals
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Public Counsel
Case Summary
PB-CA-0051-Caitlin

The U.S. Census Bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, conducts a census every ten years. The census surveys the number of persons in each household and, in the process, gathers certain demographic information about those persons. The Bureau’s stated ... read more >
PB-CA-0051-Caitlin

The U.S. Census Bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, conducts a census every ten years. The census surveys the number of persons in each household and, in the process, gathers certain demographic information about those persons. The Bureau’s stated goal in administering the census “is to count every person living in the United States once, only once and in the right place.” In 2018, the Department of Commerce announced the final list of questions for the 2020 decennial census that it will submit to Congress. This would include a question asking the citizenship status of every person in every household in the US, which has not been done since 1950. The citizenship question asked, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” and required the respondent to select one of the following responses:

1) “Yes, born in the United States”;
(2) “Yes, born in Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Northern Marianas”;
(3) “Yes, born abroad of U.S. citizen parent or parents”;
(4) “Yes, citizen by naturalization – Print year of naturalization”; or
(5) “No, not a U.S. citizen

On April 17, 2018, the city of San Jose and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) filed a complaint against Wilbur Ross, in his official capacity as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce; the U.S. Department of Commerce; Ron Jarmin, in his official capacity as Acting Director of the U.S. Census Bureau; and the U.S. Census Bureau. The plaintiffs sought a declaration that including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census violated the Constitution’s “actual Enumeration” mandate and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) prohibition against “arbitrary and capricious” agency action. Further, to avoid irreparable harm, the plaintiffs sought an injunction prohibiting the Bureau from including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

The plaintiffs claimed that that fewer people would respond to the 2020 Census if it included a citizenship question. The inaccurate data would in turn result in funding allocations that would disadvantage San Jose and its residents. The data from the 2020 Census would be used not only to allocate congressional seats but also to determine funding for public health, education, transportation and neighborhood improvements, all of which are determined based on the population as determined by the Census. An increase in the undercount of persons living in San Jose, and specifically an increased undercount of minority populations, would lead to San Jose and its residents suffering harm through both lost representation in the United States House of Representatives and millions of dollars of foregone federal funding. BAJI claimed it would also be harmed due to the diversion of essential and limited resources—including time and money—from other important matters that it ordinarily would have been addressing through dialogues, presentations, workshops, publications, technical assistance and trainings to build alliances between African American and immigrant communities, in order to educate its diverse constituents regarding issues related to the census citizenship questions. Like the residents in San Jose, the minority and immigrant communities BAJI serves would also be deterred from responding to the 2020 Census because of the citizenship question.

The complaint was filed in the US District Court of California (Northern District – San Jose Division). The case was originally assigned to Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd, but San Jose did not consent to a US Magistrate Judge’s jurisdiction, and the case was randomly reassigned to U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh. On May 22, 2018, Judge Richard Seeborg signed an order relating this case to an earlier case assigned to him. In that case, State of California v Ross (PB-CA-0049 in this Clearinghouse), the plaintiffs also claimed that the inclusion of a citizenship question operated by design to depress an accurate count of certain immigrant communities residing in the United States, in violation of the Constitution and the APA. Thus, San Jose v. Ross was reassigned to Judge Seeborg for all further proceedings.

The defendants moved to dismiss all claims asserted against them on June 21, but the judge rejected the motion, finding that the plaintiffs had standing to challenge the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census and that the plaintiffs had properly stated claims for relief under both the Enumeration Clause of the Constitution and the APA. On November 2, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment, and the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The court found that there was a material dispute of fact regarding whether, and to what extent, the addition of the citizenship question would impact the final enumeration of the public. The judge also concluded that there were material disputes regarding whether Secretary Ross failed to “consider an important aspect of the problem” before making his decision. The judge accordingly denied both parties’ motions for summary judgment on December 14, 2018. 362 F.Supp.3d 749.

After the case survived summary judgment, the parties prepared for trial. The bench trial began on January 7, 2019. On February 15, 2019, the same day as closing arguments, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in a related case regarding the census, State of New York v. Department of Commerce (PB-NY-0032 in this Clearinghouse). The defendants recommended the court defer its ruling until the Supreme Court had finished its proceedings. The plaintiffs opposed staying the case, and the court agreed.

On March 6, 2019, the court held that the decision to add a citizenship question violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Enumeration Clause. 358 F.Supp.3d 965. The court held that the decision to include the citizenship question was arbitrary and capricious, was an abuse of discretion, and was not otherwise in accordance with the law. Notwithstanding the discretion given to the Secretary, the court found that the addition of the citizenship question would result in an undercount. Accordingly, on March 13, 2019, Judge Seeborg issued an order entering judgment for the plaintiffs on their APA claims, vacating Secretary Ross's decision to include the citizenship question on the 2020 Census, and permanently enjoining the defendants from including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census. On the same day, the defendants appealed to the Ninth Circuit. The case was docketed as No. 19-15457.

On March 18, 2019, the defendants filed a petition for writ of certiorari before judgment in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court issued its opinion in Department of Commerce v. New York, and affirmed the district court’s judgment that the decision to add a citizenship question violates the APA. Following its decision, the Supreme Court granted the defendants’ petition for writ of certiorari, docket No. 18-1214. The judgment was vacated and the case was remanded to the Ninth Circuit for further consideration in light of Department of Commerce v. New York. The Ninth Circuit subsequent remanded the action the district court.

The plaintiffs filed an unopposed motion to enter final judgment on July 30, 2019. On August 1, 2019, Judge Seeborg granted the motion, vacated the prior judgment, and entered final judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on the APA claims and the defendants on the claims under the Enumeration Clause. The defendants were permanently enjoined from including a citizenship question or asking about citizenship on the 2020 census. The court was to retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the order until the 2020 Census results are processed and sent to the President by December 31, 2020. As of January 8, 2019, this case was ongoing and the court continues to retain jurisdiction over the permanent injunction.

Esther Vinarov - 02/09/2019
Caitlin Kierum - 11/23/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Immigration status
General
Funding
Public assistance grants
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Record-keeping
Immigration/Border
Status/Classification
U.S. citizenship - losing
Plaintiff Type
City/County Plaintiff
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) Acting Director
Secretary
Plaintiff Description City of San Jose and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), a California nonprofit corporation that educates and engages African Americans and Black immigrants to organize and advocate for equality and justice in laws and in their communities
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Public Counsel
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2019 - 2020
Filed 2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PB-CA-0049 : California v. Ross (N.D. Cal.)
PB-NY-0032 : State of New York v. U.S. Department of Commerce (S.D.N.Y.)
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
3:18−cv−02279−RS (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0051-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/18/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-CA-0051-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Related Case Order [ECF# 33] (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0051-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/22/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motions to Dismiss [ECF# 86] (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0051-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motions for Summary Judgment and for Partial Summary Judgment [ECF# 119] (362 F.Supp.3d 749) (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0051-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/14/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law [ECF# 196] (358 F.Supp.3d 965) (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0051-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/06/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment, Order of Vacatur, and Permanent Injunction [ECF# 197] (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0051-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/13/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Petition for Writ of Certiorari [Ct. of App. ECF# 14]
PB-CA-0051-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/14/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Notice of Unopposed Motion to Enter Final Judgment After Remand; Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof; Order [ECF# 227] (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0051-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment After Remand, Order of Vacatur, and Permanent Injunction [ECF# 228] (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0051-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Seeborg, Richard G. (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0002 | PB-CA-0051-0003 | PB-CA-0051-0004 | PB-CA-0051-0005 | PB-CA-0051-0006 | PB-CA-0051-0007 | PB-CA-0051-0008 | PB-CA-0051-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cardona, Mario (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Case, Andrew (New York) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0001 | PB-CA-0051-0007 | PB-CA-0051-9000
Clarke, Kristen M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0007
Doyle, Richard (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0007
Frimann, Nora Valerie (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0001 | PB-CA-0051-0007 | PB-CA-0051-9000
Greenbaum, Jon M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0001 | PB-CA-0051-0007 | PB-CA-0051-9000
Guardado, Ana G. (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0001 | PB-CA-0051-0007 | PB-CA-0051-9000
Libby, John F. (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0001 | PB-CA-0051-0007 | PB-CA-0051-0009 | PB-CA-0051-9000
McGuinness, John W. (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0001 | PB-CA-0051-0007 | PB-CA-0051-9000
Perez, Salvador (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0001 | PB-CA-0051-9000
Petrossian, Emil (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0001 | PB-CA-0051-0007 | PB-CA-0051-9000
Rosenbaum, Mark Dale (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0007 | PB-CA-0051-9000
Rosenberg, Ezra (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0001 | PB-CA-0051-0007 | PB-CA-0051-9000
Showole, Olufunmilayo (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0001 | PB-CA-0051-0007 | PB-CA-0051-9000
Spence, Dorian (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-0001 | PB-CA-0051-0007 | PB-CA-0051-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bailey, Kate (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Bates, Christopher A (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Edney, Marsha S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Ehrlich, Stephen (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Federighi, Carol (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Girdharry, Glenn M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Kisor, Colin A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Lucas, Gerald Brinton (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Morrell, David Michael (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Reimer, Christopher Robert Bachner (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Schiffer, Daniel A (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Shumate, Brett (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Tomlinson, Martin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Wells, Carlotta (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Other Lawyers Delery, Stuart F. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Kleinbrodt, Julian Wolfe (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Mugmon, Michael A. (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Southwell, Alexander H. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Weir, Bryan K. (Virginia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000
Wydra, Elizabeth B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0051-9000

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