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Brennan Center v. United States Dep’t of Commerce

The Brennan Center has filed a lawsuit against Department of Commerce, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Justice, and the Office of Management and Budget under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel production of records concerning the Trump Administration’s former plans for calculating the state apportionments in the U.S. House of Representatives after completion of the 2020 Census.

Last Updated: June 4, 2021
Published: September 22, 2020

Summary

The Brennan Center has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Justice, and the Office of Management and Budget under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel expedited production of records concerning the Trump Administration’s former plans for calculating the state apportionments in the U.S. House of Representatives after completion of the 2020 Census.

This case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP is representing the Brennan Center in this case.

Case Background

In early July 2020, the Brennan Center filed FOIA requests with the defendants seeking records related to former President Trump’s July 11, 2019 executive order ordering the Census Bureau to collect administrative records on citizenship from other federal agencies. The requests seek all records related to how the Administration may have attempted to use citizenship data to alter the 2020 state-population totals used to calculate the state apportionments or may have otherwise tried to change the state-population totals.

Defendants initially denied our requests for expedited processing of the FOIA requests and did not produce the requested documents. On October 30, 2020, however, the court granted our motion for a preliminary injunction and ordered the federal government to produce most of the requested documents on a rolling basis by January 11, 2021.

The Commerce Department and the U.S. Census Bureau produced some documents on a rolling basis by January 11, 2021 but simultaneously withheld hundreds of documents in full. The Brennan Center is continuing to pursue withheld documents that may help shed light on how the Trump administration planned to calculate the reapportionment or intended to collect and use citizenship data.

Key Documents