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Brennan Center v. United States Dep’t of Commerce

The Brennan Center 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: August 18, 2021
Published: September 22, 2020

Read about the govern­ment docu­ments released in the lawsuit here >> 


The Bren­nan Center 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.

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

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. Over the course of 2021 nego­ti­ations with the Bren­nan Center, the Depart­ment and the Bureau recon­sidered some of their initial with­hold­ings and produced addi­tional docu­ments. The final produc­tion was made on Septem­ber 15, 2021.

Key Docu­ments