Skip Navigation
Court Case Tracker

New York Immigration Coal. v. United States Dep’t of Commerce

The New York Immigration Coalition led a coalition of groups in a challenge to the Commerce Department’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Last Updated: October 14, 2019
Published: July 16, 2019

Summary

The New York Immig­ra­tion Coali­tion led coali­tion of groups in a chal­lenge to the Commerce Depart­ment’s decision to add a citizen­ship ques­tion to the 2020 Census. The plaintiffs argued that the Depart­ment’s decision viol­ated the U.S. Consti­tu­tion and the Admin­is­trat­ive Proced­ure Act.   

This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the South­ern District of New York and produced the first trial victory on the citizen­ship ques­tion issue. On June 27, 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opin­ion in the case block­ing the citizen­ship ques­tion.

Case Back­ground

A coali­tion of groups repres­ent­ing immig­rant and minor­ity communit­ies sued the Commerce Depart­ment, Commerce Secret­ary Wilbur Ross, and the Census Bureau over the Commerce Depart­ment’s decision to add a citizen­ship ques­tion to the 2020 Census. The suit asser­ted that a citizen­ship ques­tion would under­mine the accur­acy of the census and exacer­bate the under­count of minor­ity communit­ies.

The plaintiffs alleged that the Commerce Depart­ment acted with discrim­in­at­ory intent towards Asian-Amer­ic­ans, Arab-Amer­ic­ans, Lati­nos, and immig­rant communit­ies of color in adding a citizen­ship ques­tion to the decen­nial census form. The plaintiffs claimed that a citizen­ship ques­tion would drive down parti­cip­a­tion by members of these communit­ies, thereby redu­cing their polit­ical power and the amount of federal fund­ing they receive. The plaintiffs argued that this amoun­ted to a viol­a­tion of the equal protec­tion clause of the Fifth Amend­ment of the U.S. Consti­tu­tion.

The suit further conten­ded that because the citizen­ship ques­tion would produce a system­atic under­count of Lati­nos, Asian-Amer­ic­ans, Arab-Amer­ic­ans, and other immig­rant communit­ies of color, the ques­tion would under­mine the federal govern­ment’s consti­tu­tional oblig­a­tion under the Census Clause to conduct an “actual enumer­a­tion” of the national popu­la­tion. The suit further argued that Commerce Depart­ment’s decision to add the ques­tion viol­ated the Admin­is­trat­ive Proced­ure Act (APA) because, among other things, it viol­ated federal law and Census Bureau policies.

Bench trial was held between Novem­ber 5, 2018 and Novem­ber 27, 2018. The court consol­id­ated this case with New York v. United States Depart­ment of Commerce for purposes of that trial. 

The district court ruled on Janu­ary 15, 2019 for the plaintiffs on their APA claims, and ordered the Commerce Depart­ment to remove a citizen­ship ques­tion from the 2020 Census. 

The federal govern­ment appealed that decision directly to the Supreme Court. On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court issued an opin­ion uphold­ing in part the district court’s decision strik­ing down the citizen­ship ques­tion. 

On July 11, 2019, the federal govern­ment announced that it would aban­don its pursuit of the citizen­ship ques­tion.

The district court is now consid­er­ing, among other things, claims that the federal govern­ment’s attor­neys and witnesses should be sanc­tioned for their actions in the case.

Key Docu­ments

District Court

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Depart­ment of Justice’s Peti­tion for a Writ of Manda­mus, Case No. 18–2659, re: Extra-Record Discov­ery and John Gore Depos­ition)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Depart­ment of Justice’s Peti­tion for a Writ of Manda­mus, Case No. 18–2857, re: Extra-Record Discov­ery and Wilbur Ross Depos­ition)

U.S. Supreme Court (Case No. 18A350)

U.S. Supreme Court (Case No. 18A375)

U.S. Supreme Court (Case No. 18–966, re: Merits of the Citizen­ship Ques­tion) 

Amicus Briefs Regard­ing Grant­ing Certi­or­ari 

Amicus Briefs in Support of Commerce Depart­ment 

Amicus Briefs in Support of New York et al.