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Fair Lines America Foundation v. U.S. Dep’t of Commerce

Fair Lines America Foundation filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. Census Bureau under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel the Census Bureau to release records concerning institutional living facilities and other housing facilities counted in the group quarters operation for the 2020 Census.

Last Updated: August 3, 2022
Published: May 19, 2021

Fair Lines America Foundation v. U.S. Dep’t of Commerce

Summary

Fair Lines Amer­­ica Found­a­­tion filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Commerce Depart­­ment and the U.S. Census Bureau under the Free­­dom of Inform­a­­tion Act (FOIA) to compel the Census Bureau to release records concern­ing insti­tu­­tional living facil­it­ies and other hous­ing facil­it­ies coun­­ted in the group quar­ters oper­­a­­tion for the 2020 Census. On August 8, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that the Census Bureau was exemp­ted from releas­ing docu­ments respons­ive to plaintiff’s FOIA request under its stat­utory duty to keep census responses confid­en­tial.

Case Back­­­ground

Fair Lines Amer­­ica Found­a­­tion sued the U.S. Commerce Depart­­ment and the U.S. Census Bureau under the FOIA to compel produc­­tion of internal records concern­ing the coun­t­ing of group quar­ters for the 2020 Census. The plaintiff sought records related to how the Covid-19 pandemic affected the coun­t­ing of insti­tu­­tional living facil­it­ies or other hous­ing facil­it­ies in the 2020 Census and the poten­­tial impact the group quar­ters count may have had on the over­­all state popu­la­­tion tabu­la­tions.

Fair Lines asked the court for injunc­t­ive and declar­at­ory relief to compel the Census Bureau to disclose the group quar­ters popu­la­­tion data and other reques­ted records. The Census Bureau respon­ded that produ­cing this data would result in further delays in the release of redis­trict­ing data from the 2020 Census. Fair Lines with­drew its motion for a prelim­in­ary injunc­tion on July 28, 2021.

On August 8, 2022, the court gran­ted the govern­ment’s motion for summary judg­ment. The court’s opin­ion held that the the Census Bureau is not required to release state-level group quarter imputa­tion data from the 2020 Census.

Docu­ments