Attorney General Becerra Leads Defense of Complete, Accurate Census Count in Apportionment Memo Case Before U.S. Supreme Court

Monday, November 30, 2020
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — joined by the cities of Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Oakland, as well as the Los Angeles Unified School District and County of Los Angeles — today filed a U.S. Supreme Court brief pushing back on the Trump Administration’s unlawful attempt to alter the census’s long-standing process for determining Congressional representation. In the brief, the coalition once again asserts that the President’s attack on a complete, accurate census count is patently unconstitutional and that the State of California and its local governments have standing to challenge the President’s census apportionment memorandum.

“For hundreds of years, the U.S. Constitution has been clear: everyone counts,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Here in California, we know that fundamental value extends beyond the census. No matter the color of your skin or where you come from, you count. The President doesn’t have the authority to say otherwise. It’s in our laws and, as a nation of immigrants, it’s part of who we are. We’re going to keep fighting to protect that and make sure all Californians are able to make their voices heard.”

On October 22, 2020, a three-judge district court ruled in favor of the State of California in its challenge to the President’s memorandum, holding that the state and other plaintiffs had established standing and that the President’s decision to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment count violated the Census Act, the Reapportionment Act, and the U.S. Constitution. The Trump Administration appealed that ruling on October 23, 2020 and the case — consolidated with a similar case led by the City of San Jose — is now before the U.S. Supreme Court as Trump v. City of San Jose, et al. The state’s case also parallels another challenge currently on appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court in Trump v. New York, in which California is involved as a friend of the court. In the brief filed today, the state asks the court to affirm the district court's decision in the California case once the New York case has been resolved.

Ultimately, the President’s memorandum expressly singles out California, predicting that the state will lose more than one congressional seat under the President’s policy. Upholding the memorandum would dilute the state’s political representation at the federal level and harm Californians’ ability to make their voices heard. Despite the clear language of the law, the memorandum ignores that the U.S. Constitution requires that each state’s representation in Congress reflect all persons living in the state based on the census, which, as required by law, is an actual enumeration — a count of each person — of the country’s total population conducted every 10 years. Beyond Congressional representation, the results of the census also determine the distribution of crucial federal funding. Billions of dollars are at stake with an accurate, complete census count — money that California gets back from taxes paid to the federal government each year to fund programs and services that support the health and well-being of all of our communities.

Attorney General Becerra is committed to working to uphold the rights of everyone in California, no matter where they were born. Earlier this month, Attorney General Becerra led a multistate coalition in filing an amended complaint to challenge ongoing efforts by the Trump Administration to undermine the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. In July, following widespread public outcry and a lawsuit filed by the State of California, the Trump Administration ditched its dangerous directive on student visas. In June, the Attorney General secured a U.S. Supreme Court order leaving in place an appellate decision that the Trump Administration does not have the authority to commandeer state resources for the purposes of federal immigration enforcement. Last year, Attorney General Becerra secured an injunction permanently blocking the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The Attorney General also filed a lawsuit in opposition to a rule circumventing protections for children under the Flores Settlement Agreement, a rule that was permanently blocked by a federal court in September of 2019.

A copy of today’s brief is available here.

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