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2020 Census Litigation

The Brennan Center for Justice fights in court to ensure the vital census count is done fairly and accurately.

Overview

Every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a count —  the census — of all the people living in the coun­­try. The U.S. Consti­tu­­tion requires the govern­­ment to count every adult and child, citizens and noncit­­izens. The census count not only determ­ines how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Repres­ent­at­ives but also affects how and where federal, state, and local govern­­ments alloc­ate funds for educa­­tion, social services, infra­­struc­ture, and more. 

Despite its vital import­ance, the 2020 Census faced a myriad of risks. These risks included efforts to add an untested citizen­­ship ques­­tion to the census form, other attempts to produce citizen­ship data for purposes of remov­ing undoc­u­mented persons from the count, and a last-minute rush to speed up count­ing and data-processing.

The Bren­nan Center and others mobil­­ized to address these risks through legal action in the federal courts. This litig­a­tion resul­ted in victor­ies that stopped the citizen­­ship ques­­tion, halted the rush of count­ing and data-processing oper­a­tions, and shed light on the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s plans to manip­u­late the census. In addi­­tion to parti­­cip­at­ing in these and other cases, we tracked major devel­op­­ments in the key litig­a­tion to keep the public informed.

Litigation About the 2020 Census

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