Attorney General Becerra Leads Friend-of-the-Court Brief Against Unlawful Census Apportionment Memo

Monday, November 16, 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, County of Los Angeles, and California Citizens Redistricting Commission — today filed an amicus brief in Trump v. New York in opposition to President Trump’s last-ditch attempt to alter the census’s long-standing process for determining Congressional representation. The friend-of-the-court brief filed before the U.S. Supreme Court highlights the direct harms of the President's census apportionment memorandum to California and asserts that it violates the Census Act, the Reapportionment Act, and the U.S. Constitution. 

“Besides being patently unconstitutional, this attack by the President on the census is a reminder that there are some who think they can only succeed by erasing the labor, contributions, and existence of others,” said Attorney General Becerra. “That’s not the way our laws and Constitution work. And it’s not consistent with our values. Here in California, we know that everyone counts.”

On July 21, 2020, the Trump Administration issued a memorandum excluding undocumented immigrants from being counted for the purposes of Congressional apportionment. The memorandum ignored 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. Shortly after the memorandum was announced, California quickly filed suit and secured a permanent injunction last month. In addition to the multistate case led by New York, California’s case has also been directly appealed by the Trump Administration to the U.S. Supreme Court after being decided in California's favor by a three-judge panel on an expedited basis.

In the amicus brief, the California coalition asserts: 

  • The Court has jurisdiction to address challenges to the memorandum; and
  • The memorandum violates the Census Act, the Reapportionment Act, and the U.S. Constitution.

The results of the census determine state representation in Congress as well as the distribution of crucial federal funding. Billions of dollars are at stake with the 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 our communities. Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, census data is strictly confidential and can only be used for statistical purposes. Information provided cannot be used against residents by any government agency or court of law.

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 the amicus brief is available here.

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