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BREAKING NEWS: Federal Court Orders Trump Administration To Stop Census Shutdown for At Least 12 Days

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the Trump administration to cease shutting down its census operations for at least the next twelve days, until a scheduled Sept. 17 hearing.

September 6, 2020
Contact: Mireya Navarro, Media Contact,, 646-925-8760

BREAKING NEWS: Federal Court Orders Trump Administration To Stop Census Shutdown for At Least 12 Days 


September 5, 2020

Contact: Mireya Navarro,, 646–925–8760

SAN JOSE, Calif.—The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California today ordered the Trump administration to cease shutting down its census operations for at least the next twelve days, until a scheduled Sept. 17 hearing.  

The order by District Judge Lucy H. Koh was issued after a hearing Friday in National Urban League et al. v. Wilbur L. Ross Jr et al., the lawsuit filed by civil rights groups, civil organizations and local governments last month to block the administration’s attempt to rush census operations to a close by September 30. The federal court acted in response to a motion that the plaintiffs filed last Thursday in which they asked for a temporary restraining order after lawyers for the government disclosed that they have already begun winding down the census count, well ahead of the end of this month as previously announced.  

“Today’s ruling is a necessary and encouraging first step toward saving the 2020 Census from a massive undercount that will disproportionately affect our country’s communities of color," said Thomas Wolf, Senior Counsel and Spitzer Fellow with the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. 

“The 2020 Census needs more time than the Trump administration is offering if we are going to get the full, fair, and accurate count that the Constitution guarantees. Today’s ruling buys the census some precious and indispensable time by barring the administration from shutting down the count while the federal courts are still considering our request for relief.” 

The plaintiffs sued on August 18 to reverse the Trump administration’s unconstitutional decision to sacrifice the accuracy of the 2020 Census by forcing the Census Bureau to compress eight and a half months of necessary data collection and data processing into four and a half months, against the judgment of the Bureau’s staff and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. A hearing on the lawsuit has been scheduled for Sept. 17. 

Since the lawsuit was filed, five new plaintiffs have joined it. They are the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; the Navajo Nation; Gila River Indian Community; the City of Chicago, Illinois; and the County of Los Angeles, California.

The other plaintiffs are: the National Urban League, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the League of Women Voters, Harris County in Texas, King County in Washington, the cities of Los Angeles, San Jose, and Salinas (California), and Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia of the Harris County Commissioners Court. 

The plaintiffs are represented by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Latham & Watkins, LLP, Public Counsel, Navajo Nation Department of Justice, the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney, the Office of the Salinas City Attorney, Edelson P.C., the Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Holland & Knight LLP. 

“We are pleased with the Court’s ruling against this Administration’s racist and unlawful efforts to keep Black people, including Black immigrants, from being accurately counted in the 2020 Census,” said Nana Gyamfi, Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration. “COVID-19 has disproportionately devastated our communities in so many ways, including the impact it has had on our ability to make sure our communities are counted. It is imperative that our communities have until at least October 31st to complete the census and claim the resources and representation we are entitled to.” 

“We appreciate the Court’s swift action to issue a Temporary Restraining Order as we proceed towards the September 17 hearing on the preliminary injunction," said Melissa Sherry, partner at Latham & Watkins. "Ensuring that the count continues during this period is of critical importance to ensure the accuracy of the 2020 Census, and we look forward to addressing the need to further extend the count at that upcoming hearing.”

“The court rightfully recognized the Trump administration’s attempted short-circuiting of our nation’s census as an imminent threat to the completion of a fair and accurate process,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “President Trump and Secretary Ross’ decisions to undermine the process may have deprived vulnerable communities of fair representation and fair allocation of funds for the next 10 years or more.”  

Brennan Center Resources

Press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.  

National Urban League v. Ross case page