Skip Navigation
Court Case Tracker

California v. Trump

The State of California – along with several California cities and the Los Angeles Unified School District – challenged President Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from the state-population totals that are produced by the 2020 Census and used for apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and votes in the Electoral College.

Last Updated: February 24, 2021
Published: July 31, 2020

Summary

The State of Cali­for­nia – along with several Cali­for­nia cities and the Los Angeles Unified School District – chal­lenged Pres­id­ent Trump’s attempt to exclude undoc­u­mented immig­rants from the state-popu­la­tion totals that are produced by the 2020 Census and used for appor­tion­ing seats in the U.S. House of Repres­ent­at­ives and votes in the Elect­oral College. The plaintiffs argued that a July 21, 2020 White House memor­andum direct­ing the Commerce Secret­ary to report data on undoc­u­mented immig­rants to Pres­id­ent Trump viol­ated the U.S. Consti­tu­tion, the federal Census Act, and other federal law.

On Decem­ber 28, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the district court’s decision and remanded the case to the U.S. District Court for the North­ern District of Cali­for­nia. On Janu­ary 7, 2021, the district court dismissed the case for lack of juris­dic­tion.

Case Back­ground

The State of Cali­for­nia, three Cali­for­nia cities, and the Los Angeles Unified School District sued Pres­id­ent Donald Trump, Secret­ary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the Depart­ment of Commerce, the Census Bureau, and Census Bureau Director Steven Dilling­ham, arguing that the exclu­sion of undoc­u­mented immig­rants from the 2020 Census state-popu­la­tion totals used for appor­tion­ing congres­sional seats and Elect­oral College votes is uncon­sti­tu­tional and other­wise illegal.

The plaintiffs conten­ded that the Pres­id­ent’s July 21, 2020 memor­andum on exclud­ing undoc­u­mented immig­rants from the state-popu­la­tion totals used to calcu­late the state appor­tion­ments viol­ated consti­tu­tional and stat­utory require­ments that the Pres­id­ent include all persons in the congres­sional appor­tion­ment base, irre­spect­ive of citizen­ship or immig­ra­tion status. The suit further argued that the memor­andum viol­ates separ­a­tion-of-powers prin­ciples and that the Pres­id­ent’s decision to exclude undoc­u­mented immig­rants from the appor­tion­ment base without reli­able data to do so was “arbit­rary and capri­cious” under the Admin­is­trat­ive Proced­ure Act.

The plaintiffs asked the court to declare that the exclu­sion of undoc­u­mented immig­rants from congres­sional appor­tion­ment viol­ates the Consti­tu­tion and federal law. The plaintiffs also asked the court to bar the Commerce Depart­ment and the Census Bureau from trans­mit­ting any data regard­ing citizen­ship or immig­ra­tion status to the Pres­id­ent for appor­tion­ment purposes and to order the Pres­id­ent to include all resid­ents of the states, includ­ing  undoc­u­mented immig­rants, when he calcu­lates the appor­tion­ments.

On August 14, the court consol­id­ated this case with San Jose v. Trump.

On Octo­ber 22, the district court gran­ted the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judg­ment and enjoined the federal govern­ment from imple­ment­ing the memor­andum.

The federal govern­ment appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. 

On Decem­ber 28, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the district court’s decision and remanded the case to the U.S. District Court for the North­ern District of Cali­for­nia in light of its Decem­ber 18, 2020 opin­ion ruling that the case was not “ripe for review” in Trump v. New York.

On Janu­ary 7, 2021, the district court dismissed the case for lack of juris­dic­tion.

Key Docu­ments

U.S. Supreme Court (Case No. 20–561)