University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name National Urban League v. Ross PB-CA-0056
Docket / Court 5:20-cv-05799 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization Brennan Center for Justice
Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Case Summary
On August 18, 2020, a coalition of cities, counties, Indian tribes, advocacy organizations, and individuals represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the law firm Latham & Watkins LLP sued the U.S. Department of Commerce (“Department”), the ... read more >
On August 18, 2020, a coalition of cities, counties, Indian tribes, advocacy organizations, and individuals represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the law firm Latham & Watkins LLP sued the U.S. Department of Commerce (“Department”), the Department Secretary, the U.S. Census Bureau (“Bureau”), and the Bureau Director in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated the U.S. Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by abandoning the Bureau’s COVID-19 plans and pursuing a “rush plan” that would truncate 2020 Census timelines, undercount communities of color, and produce inaccurate census results. The plaintiffs asked the Court to declare the rush plan unconstitutional under the Enumeration Clause and unlawful under the APA; to vacate the rush plan and reinstate the Covid-19 Plan; and to enjoin the defendants from implementing the rush plan or otherwise interfering with the Covid-19 plan. The case was assigned to Judge Lucy H. Koh.

This case was brought amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which severely disrupted the 2020 Census by suspending operations and creating significant delays in counting processes. In response, the Bureau implemented a COVID-19 plan delaying operations timelines to give the Bureau enough time to ensure the quality and accuracy of 2020 Census data. The COVID-19 plan extended the deadline for reporting state population totals to the President from December 31, 2020 to April 30, 2021, and the deadline for reporting redistricting numbers to the states from March 31, 2020 to July 31, 2021.

Then, on August 3, 2020, the Secretary of Commerce and the Census Bureau Director abruptly reversed course and announced that the Bureau would abandon the COVID-19 plan and adopt a rush plan. The rush plan required states to comply with the original 2020 Census deadlines, forcing them to complete 7.5 months of data collection and processing work in roughly half the time. The Bureau’s about-face was criticized by census experts, who concluded that the rush plan would significantly undermine the quality of the 2020 Census by undercounting communities of color, especially undocumented immigrants.

In their complaint, plaintiffs alleged that (1) the Bureau violated its duty under the Enumeration Clause to make census-related decisions that “bear a reasonable relationship to the accomplishment of an actual enumeration of the population,” and (2) the Bureau’s decision to abandon its COVID-19 plans and pursue the rush plan was arbitrary and capricious under the APA because the Bureau did not adequately explain its decision, and (3) the explanation the Bureau provided was pretextual. In sum, the plaintiffs argued that the Bureau abandoned the COVID-19 plan and pursued the rush plan in a thinly veiled attempt to exclude undocumented people from the state population totals used to apportion the U.S. House of Representatives, which would result in a more favorable post-Census apportionment for the Republican Party.

On September 5, 2020, the Court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order, enjoining the Bureau from implementing the rush plan until the court conducted a hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. 2020 WL 5291452. On September 17, 2020, the Court extended the order up to seven days or until the Court ruled on the plaintiffs’ motion, whichever came first, in part because the defendants failed to produce the administrative record pursuant to a court order. 2020 WL 5578931. In the meantime, Louisiana and Mississippi moved to intervene in the case, arguing that the states had significant protectable interests in the matter that were not adequately represented by the parties. The states also warned that the plaintiffs aimed to “pad the census count in certain jurisdictions.” The plaintiffs opposed the states’ motion to intervene on October 7, 2020.

In a 78-page ruling on September 24, 2020, the Court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, holding that the rush plan was likely arbitrary and capricious; that plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm without an injunction; that the balance of hardships tipped sharply in plaintiffs’ favor; and that a preliminary injunction was in the public interest. 2020 WL 5739144. The injunction order stayed the rush plan deadlines for completing data collection and for reporting total state population totals and enjoined the defendants from implementing them.

The next day, September 25, 2020, the Court denied the federal government’s motion to stay the Court’s order pending appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The government appealed to the Ninth Circuit, requesting an immediate administrative stay and filing an emergency motion to stay the preliminary injunction pending appeal. On September 30, 2020, in a partial ruling on the government’s appeal, the Ninth Circuit denied the government’s request for an immediate administrative stay because it would have “upended, rather than preserved” the status quo. 2020 WL 5815054.

While the parties awaited the Ninth Circuit’s decision on the government’s emergency motion to stay, the district court issued a clarifying order addressing numerous allegations of defendants’ noncompliance with the original temporary restraining order and the preliminary injunction. 2020 WL 5876939. In the October 1, 2020 order, the Court specified the scope of the injunction and ordered tailored relief to ensure defendants complied with it. This relief included direct text messages from the Bureau Director to all Bureau employees informing them of the injunction and the new census deadlines, as well as a sworn affidavit from the Bureau Director declaring that the Bureau was complying with the injunction order. Finally, the Court denied as moot plaintiffs’ September 30, 2020 motion to compel and for sanctions for defendants’ noncompliance with court orders, and plaintiffs’ September 30, 2020 motion for a temporary restraining order pending the Court’s ruling on plaintiff’s motion to compel and for sanctions.

One week later, on October 7, 2020, the Ninth Circuit granted in part and denied in part the government’s emergency motion to stay the preliminary injunction pending appeal, holding that the government was entitled to a stay to the extent that the district court enjoined it from abiding by existing statutory deadlines but was not entitled to a stay regarding the implementation of the rush plan. 2020 WL 5940346. Under this order, the census count had to continue until October 31, 2020.

The government appealed to the Supreme Court, which stayed the injunction on October 13, 2020, pending the disposition of the government’s Ninth Circuit appeal and the government’s petition for writ of certiorari. 2020 WL 6041178. This stay allowed the Census Bureau to cease its counting operations in accordance with the rush plan.

This case is ongoing.

Becca Rogers - 10/26/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Enumerations Clause
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Record-keeping
Plaintiff Type
American Indian Tribe
City/County Plaintiff
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Director of the U.S. Census Bureau
Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce
U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Department of Commerce
Plaintiff Description A coalition of counties, cities, Indian tribes, advocacy organizations, and individuals.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Brennan Center for Justice
Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 08/18/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing IM-CA-0169 : California v. Trump (N.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  National Urban League v. Ross
Brennan Center for Justice
Date: Aug. 14, 2020
By: Brennan Center
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
5:20-cv-05799-LHK (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0056-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/23/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PB-CA-0056-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 61]
PB-CA-0056-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 84] (2020 WL 5291452) (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0056-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Extending Temporary Restraining Order for Defendants' Partial Production of the Administrative Record [ECF# 142] (2020 WL 5578931) (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0056-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Motion and Motion to Intervene by States of Louisiana and Mississippi [ECF# 204]
PB-CA-0056-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/23/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Stay and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 208] (2020 WL 5739144) (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0056-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion to Stay Pending Appeal [ECF# 212] (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0056-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/25/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 27] (2020 WL 5815054)
PB-CA-0056-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Re: Clarification of Stay and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 288] (2020 WL 5876939) (N.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0056-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 45] (2020 WL 5940346)
PB-CA-0056-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
On Application for Stay (2020 WL 6041178)
PB-CA-0056-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/13/2020
show all people docs
Judges Berzon, Marsha Siegel (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0009
Christen, Morgan (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0010
Cousins, Nathanael M. (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Fletcher, William A. (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0009
Graber, Susan (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0009
Kagan, Elena (SCOTUS) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0011
Koh, Lucy Haeran (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0003 | PB-CA-0056-0004 | PB-CA-0056-0006 | PB-CA-0056-0007 | PB-CA-0056-0008 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Rawlinson, Johnnie B. (D. Nev., Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0010
Sotomayor, Sonia (S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit, SCOTUS) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0011
Plaintiff's Lawyers Balabanian, Rafey S. (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002
Bauer, Steven (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Bress, Richard P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Callihan, Christopher A. (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002
Chaudhuri, Pooja (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Clarke, Kristen M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Donofrio, Gemma (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Dundas, Michael Joseph (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002
Feuer, Michael Nelson (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002
Flessner, Mark A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002
Frommer, Dario (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002
Goldstein, Danielle L (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002
Greenbaum, Jon M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Harvey, Jaqueline N (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002
Hirsch, Rebecca (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002
Hoffman, Genevieve P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Holtzman, David Ilan (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002
Hough, Lily E. (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002
Huseny, Sadik Harry (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Jordan, Maryum (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002
Kane, Stephen J. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002
Kappes, Daniel P (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002
Kenealy, Kathleen Alice (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002
Lankenau, Shannon D. (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Makker, Amit (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Mutalipassi, Michael (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002
Percival, Kelly M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Pongrace, Donald R (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002
Robinson, Anne Wylde (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Rosenbaum, Mark Dale (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002
Rosenberg, Ezra (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Saini, Ajay (New York) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Sherry, Melissa A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Spence, Dorian (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002
Walters, Tyce R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Weiser, Wendy R. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Wolf, Thomas P. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0001 | PB-CA-0056-0002 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Clark, Jeffrey Bossert (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Davis, Ethan P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Ehrlich, Stephen (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Flentje, August E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Haas, Alexander K (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Kelleher, Diane (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Mauler, Daniel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Morrell, David Michael (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Nobile, Krissy Casey (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0005
Rosenberg, Brad P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
St. John, Joseph S (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0005 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Sverdlov, Alexander V. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Zee, Michael Andrew (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Other Lawyers Benbrook, Bradley A. (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0005 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Duvernay, Stephen M. (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0005 | PB-CA-0056-9000
Fitch, Lynn (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Kleinbrodt, Julian Wolfe (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Landry, Jeff (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
McCabe, Gavin Geraghty (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
McPaul, Doreen (Arizona) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002
Rajendra, Raphael N (California) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000
Searle, Jason (Arizona) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-0002
Southwell, Alexander H. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-CA-0056-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -