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Case Name Center for Popular Democracy Action v. Bureau of the Census PB-NY-0036
Docket / Court 1:19-cv-10917 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization Brennan Center for Justice
Case Summary
This is a case challenging the Trump Administration’s oversight of the 2020 census. In the years prior to the census, the government cancelled planned field tests for census operating procedures in 2017 and 2018. The government also cancelled two of three sites for the 2018 End-to-End Census Test, ... read more >
This is a case challenging the Trump Administration’s oversight of the 2020 census. In the years prior to the census, the government cancelled planned field tests for census operating procedures in 2017 and 2018. The government also cancelled two of three sites for the 2018 End-to-End Census Test, dress rehearsals that serve as the basis for many final decisions about decennial census methods and operations. Additionally, the government truncated the one remaining 2018 End-to-End testing site, removing advertising and partnerships, as well as the coverage measurement operation that helped measure how many residents are missed. The government released its Final Operational Plan in early 2019 which reflected the final design for the 2020 census, according to the Bureau of the Census.

The plaintiffs were the Center for Popular Democracy Action, a non-profit progressive advocacy organization based out of New York City, as well as the City of Newburgh, New York—home to large Hispanic American, African American, and undocumented populations (groups at risk of being underreported in the census). The plaintiffs contended that the government’s plan for making the enumeration of the population included several arbitrary and capricious decisions not allowed under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. Ch. 2) which would lead to an undercount of persons of color, of lower income, and of other “hard-to-count” communities. Specifically, the plaintiffs argued the Final Operational Plan included: (a) a plan to hire an unreasonably small number of enumerators; (b) a drastic reduction in the number of Bureau field offices; (c) a significant reduction in the Bureau’s communications and partnership program, including the elimination of local, physical Questionnaire Assistance Centers; (d) a decision to replace most In-Field Address Canvassing with In-Office Address Canvassing; and (e) a decision to make only limited efforts to count inhabitants of units that appeared vacant or nonexistent based on unreliable administrative records. The plaintiffs filed suit in the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York on November 26, 2019. The plaintiffs requested declaratory relief and an injunction that: (a) restored the Bureau’s 2020 Partnership Program to no less than 2010 levels, adjusted for inflation and population growth; (b) augmented the Bureau’s 2020 Integrated Communications Program to achieve coverage equivalent to the 2010 Census; (c) required opening a number of in-person Questionnaire Assistance Centers commensurate to that used in the 2010 Census; and (d) increased the number of enumerators to no less than 2010 levels, adjusted for population growth.

The case was referred to Judge Jesse Furman as being possibly related to State of New York v. Department of Commerce. Judge Furman declined the case as not related on December 3, 2019, and the parties agreed to proceed with Magistrate Judge James L. Cott on the same day. Finally, the case was again assigned to Judge Alvin Hellerstein on December 11.

The government filed a motion to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim on January 31, 2020. The plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on the same day; there was a filing error with this motion, and the plaintiffs re-filed for a preliminary injunction on February 24. Oral arguments on the motion to dismiss and the motion for preliminary injunction were held on March 17, 2020. The next day, the court granted the government’s motion to dismiss and denied the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

As the plaintiffs never filed an appeal of the March 18 order, the case is closed.

John Duffield - 07/27/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Enumerations Clause
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Immigration status
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Government Services (specify)
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Plaintiff Type
City/County Plaintiff
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Race
Black
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Department of Commerce
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs were the Center for Popular Democracy Action, a non-profit progressive advocacy organization based out of New York City, as well as the City of Newburgh, New York--home to large Hispanic American, African American, and undocumented populations (groups at risk of being underreported in the census)
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Brennan Center for Justice
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 11/26/2019
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Center for Popular Democracy Action v. Bureau of the Census
Brennan Center
Date: Apr. 21, 2020
By: Brennan Center
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  2020 Census Litigation
(The Brennan Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D.N.Y.
04/15/2020
1:19-cv-10917-AKH
PB-NY-0036-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D.N.Y.
11/26/2019
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-NY-0036-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Hellerstein, Alvin K. (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0036-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Agata, Seth Hugh (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0036-0001 | PB-NY-0036-9000
Alderdice, Jacob (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0036-0001 | PB-NY-0036-9000
Burbank, Renee (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0036-0001 | PB-NY-0036-9000
Creelan, Jeremy (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0036-0001 | PB-NY-0036-9000
Kohlmann, Susan Joan (California) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0036-0001 | PB-NY-0036-9000
Wishnie, Michael J. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0036-0001 | PB-NY-0036-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bretz, Emily Elizabeth (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0036-9000
Issacharoff, Lucas Estlund (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0036-9000

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