Attorney General Becerra, Local California Governments, Prevail in Challenge to Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Judge blocks the Trump Administration from adding the question; holds that the question is unlawful, unconstitutional

SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today lauded a ruling in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California striking down the Trump Administration’s addition of a citizenship question on the Census 2020 questionnaire as unlawful and unconstitutional. Attorney General Becerra, along with the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the Cities of Fremont, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Stockton secured the victory in their lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to include a citizenship question on the census questionnaire. California was the first state to file a lawsuit, on the same day the decision was announced on March 26, 2018. The City of San Jose also prevailed in its lawsuit heard alongside the state’s.

“Justice has prevailed for each and every Californian who should raise their hands to be counted in the 2020 Census without being discouraged by a citizenship question,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We will ardently defend this important judgment to safeguard fairness in funding and representation for California and its local communities. We celebrate this ruling, an important step in protecting billions of dollars meant for critical services Californians rely on, from education, to public health and safety. We look forward to a 2020 Census free of partisanship, where every person can be counted equally and without prejudice.” 

The ruling today by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg blocks the Trump Administration from including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire. The ruling holds that the citizenship question violates Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, which requires the “actual Enumeration” of all people in each state every ten years, and the Administrative Procedure Act’s prohibition against agency action that is “arbitrary and capricious” or contrary to law.

Attorney General Becerra has been a strong leader to protect Californians and their local governments against the addition of the citizenship question to the Census 2020 questionnaire. On February 12, 2018, he co-led a coalition of 19 Attorneys General in sending a letter to Secretary Ross, cautioning that a citizenship question would violate the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes. Attorney General Becerra – along with Secretary of State Alex Padilla – published an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle highlighting how high the stakes were for California.

A copy of the decision can be found here.

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