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Common Cause v. Trump

Common Cause et al., are challenging 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. This case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Last Updated: December 14, 2020
Published: July 28, 2020

Note: The Brennan Center is not a participant in this case.

Summary

Common Cause et al., 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 violates the U.S. Constitution, the federal Census Act, and other federal law. 

Case Background

Common Cause, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans, the cities of Atlanta, Georgia and Paterson, New Jersey, and a group of individuals from New York and Florida sued President Donald Trump, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and House Clerk Cheryl L. Johnson, 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 violates constitutional and statutory requirements the President include all persons in the congressional apportionment base, irrespective of citizenship or immigration status. The plaintiffs also contended that the memorandum violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause because the memorandum is “motivated by intentional invidious discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, and/or national origin.”

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 November 25, 2020, the court granted the federal government's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. 

Key Documents