For Immediate Release:
Friday, July 24, 2020
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for once again attempting to illegally politicize the 2020 census and deny North Carolinians fair representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. The lawsuit is a response to a memo issued by the administration earlier this week that calls for undocumented immigrants to be excluded from the apportionment base, the count of people that determines the number or U.S. House of Representatives members each state receives.
“We’ve been through this before, but the Trump administration is trying again to flout the Constitution and deny North Carolinians our fair share of representation in Congress and of federal resources,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “The last time the administration tried to make the census political and hurt the people of North Carolina, I sued and won, and I’ll fight this effort as well.”
The Constitution is abundantly clear: For purposes of apportioning members of the House of Representatives among the states, every person residing in the U.S. during the census, regardless of legal status, must be counted. The president’s announcement is clearly intended to promote fear and deter participation in the census by immigrants and their families, as it comes just weeks before enumerators are scheduled to go into the field to encourage households to respond to the census.
In today’s lawsuit, Attorney General Stein and a coalition of 20 other attorneys general as well additional cities and counties, argue that the administration’s actions violate the Fourteenth Amendment, the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, the Tenth Amendment, the Administrative Procedure Act, and Supreme Court precedent. The coalition contends that apportionment based on a population count that unlawfully excludes undocumented immigrants will:
- Lead to the loss of congressional seats and presidential electors in the Electoral College.
- Skew the division of electoral districts within jurisdictions by impairing state and local redistricting efforts that rely on the census count.
- Reduce federal funds to state and local jurisdictions by deterring immigrants from responding to the decennial census that is currently underway.
- Degrade the quality of census data that states and local jurisdictions rely on to perform critical governmental functions.
This week’s action by President Trump is the latest in the administration’s efforts to manipulate the census count and congressional apportionment. In 2018, Attorney General Stein sued to block the inclusion of a question regarding citizenship in the census. The Supreme Court ruled in Attorney General Stein’s favor in 2019.
Attorney General Stein is joined in filing today’s complaint by the Attorneys General of New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. The attorneys general are joined by the cities of Central Falls, RI; Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Providence, RI; Seattle, WA; and the city and county of San Francisco. Additionally, Cameron, El Paso, and Hidalgo Counties in Texas and Monterey County in California have joined the lawsuit.
A copy of the complaint is available here.