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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: October 5, 2020
Published: July 28, 2020

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

Summary

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. The plaintiffs argue 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. This case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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 are suing 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 contend 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 contend 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 are asking the court to declare that the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from congressional apportionment violates the Constitution and federal law. The plaintiffs are also asking 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.

Key Documents