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NAACP v. United States Department of Commerce

The NAACP, along with its two state branches, filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to compel the Commerce Department to release documents about the preparations for the 2020 Census. This case was dismissed by the parties in February 2019.

Last Updated: October 14, 2019
Published: February 11, 2019

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

Summary

The NAACP, along with its two state branches, filed a lawsuit under the Free­dom of Inform­a­tion Act to compel the Commerce Depart­ment to release docu­ments about the prepar­a­tions for the 2020 Census. 

This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecti­cut and dismissed in Febru­ary 2019.

Case Back­ground

The NAACP, NAACP Connecti­cut State Confer­ence, and NAACP Boston Branch sued the Commerce Depart­ment under the Free­dom of Inform­a­tion Act (FOIA) to obtain records about the Census Bureau’s plans for carry­ing out the 2020 Census.

In June 2017, the plaintiffs reques­ted docu­ments about the Bureau’s plans to address chal­lenges to census prepar­a­tions that could jeop­ard­ize an accur­ate count. The suit conten­ded that inad­equate prepar­a­tions for the 2020 Census, includ­ing budget­ary and staff­ing short­falls and cancel­la­tions and delays of tests of test new tech­no­logy systems, were likely to lead to a severe under­count of minor­it­ies. As a result, under­coun­ted communit­ies, the plaintiffs alleged, may not receive their fair share of federal fund­ing.

Accord­ing to the plaintiffs, the Bureau failed to fully respond to their request within the stat­utory dead­line, viol­at­ing FOIA. The plaintiffs conten­ded the Commerce Depart­ment was unlaw­fully with­hold­ing inform­a­tion about the Bureau’s plans to execute the census.

The plaintiffs asked the court to order the Depart­ment to process and disclose imme­di­ately the records that they reques­ted.

On Febru­ary 4, 2019, the court dismissed the case on stip­u­la­tion of the parties. 

Docu­ments